Fatherspeak

John Sibley Williams

If I take what you said word-for-word, that river
known for carrying babies in baskets toward shallow
pools for a stranger to adopt &-if the stars aligned right-
love, is my parentage. Not some cool summer night half-
remembered when your body needed above all else to sing
itself into another body. Back when consequences were a thing
that weighed less than hunger. & if your aim is as true as the song
looping over the stereo suggests, yesterday’s deer would be hanging
its head rug-like & still from our mantle right now. & I’d be a harder
man. So much for the sky falling; if I’m understanding the story you
repeated over my smallness every night—one part omen to two parts
threat—it never sat much higher than our shoulders anyway. I’m learning
there are many ways to hear, & only a few entail believing, just as
there are so many manners of bloom that don’t root or green. But if I
rolled my tongue around your language like a rotten peach pit without
tasting what you meant, I’d have missed the lesson, just as if I lived
solely in the warm x of your arms with my ears sewn shut with clouds.

 
 
 

about the writer

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John Sibley Williams is the author of three collections, including the Orison Poetry Prize winning As One Fire Consumes Another. An eleven-time Pushcart nominee and winner of various awards, John serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review. Publications include: Yale Review, Atlanta Review, Prairie Schooner, Midwest Quarterly, Sycamore Review, Massachusetts Review, Columbia, Third Coast.

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