A journal of narrative writing.
Centering the Tree
Every Christmas
my father centered the tree
like he was trying to center the world,
tying it with silver guide wires
from every shadow.

Every night
he built arks and Alamos in the basement,
pounding them into sense,
his head prickled with dreams and sawdust
as that house closed in around him.

That house unbalanced levels, swallowed nails,
resisted very tool with a groan,
dropping plaster snowflakes that aged him.
We pounded and nailed
until we crucified that house
and still it resisted,
sending down plagues of spiders and moths
and hoarding like heirlooms
its silences, filth.

Late at night he read
under a cone of hungry light
no wider than a dove,
his huge hands smoothing the pages,
his lips chanting the reluctant dawn.

He hid his diaries on the highest shelf
but I could climb those bruised walls
like a spider,
found his childhood pressed in flyleaves,
all his dusty dreams
bound tight in imitation gold.
Chicago, Winter '34,
family evicted seven times for rent,
furniture pitched in the street
like some obscene excretion,
and the father who abandoned them
sent fat boxes of lusty fruit
with no return addresses.

Slowly, our house and its stories
wore down my father until his fingers
could not clutch a nail, until his hands
shivered like frightened birds
and finally,
it devoured him, his exhausted breaths
ghosting into plaster, his tired bones
bending into balustrades,
his eyes the dusty high windows.

One day,
I found my home again
in piles of pulverized wood and bone.
Carefully, I sorted through the mess,
salvaging beams, unbending nails,
and weaving the guide wires around my veins,
sat down to build.