by Zefyr Lisowski
My father didn’t do anything but that is my point.
How many people’s fathers did.
My clothes were grey. My clothes were green. My clothes were a distant mountain. I didn’t want
to write about my father but his tongue is in my mouth like a pufferfish and my jaw won’t stop
—pop— popping open.
Isn’t it funny. He wasn’t my father but someday, he would be someone’s. That’s how the
He was my father and the only thing I knew he did was drink himself to death. I wore ash at his
funeral. But how many fathers. How long will this go on.
We have a campfire we built to sit around.
We wear ash, all us lovely taxidermied girls. We talk about our endless, come back, come back
from it again.
I could throw myself down a well hole and be done with it.
I could say, “my father did this,” and write off all fathers. I could only watch videotapes and
paintings where I saw my own little face, taxidermied into perfection.
The ghost story is that they all knew what would happen as they did it. You can’t feel guilty if
you knew from the start it was wrong, I heard a father say once.
You can’t feel guilty if you convince yourself they asked for it.
In my shiny new taxidermied body, I am one of the best kinds of total disappointments to my
Everyone I love’s campfires burning on and on, licking their tongues, burning their sticks,
Isn’t it funny. I walk to the bus stop. I walk to the convenience store. I walk further again, and
still see all the fathers.
I see the men who did this to me, and I know— pop — pop — they will all be fathers. How we are haunted and haunt everything closest to us.
Zefyr Lisowski is a trans writer and North Carolinian currently based in New York City. She's a Poetry Co-editor at Apogee Journal, a 2019 Tin House Summer Workshop alumnus, and is the author of the gay Lizzie Borden chapbook Blood Box (Black Lawrence Press 2019); her work has appeared in Nat. Brut, Literary Hub, The Poetry Project Newsletter, The Texas Review, and elsewhere. She lives online @zefrrrrrrr and at zeflisowski.com.