“My Father’s Room” and “Fig Wasp” by Grace Massey

"My Father’s Room"

My father told me that oysters scream 
on the way down, careening
through the gullet like a barrel
over Niagara Falls, half-alive and terrified.
He gutted fish on a stump by the back door
scraping smooth pink livers into the dirt.
He smelled of turpentine and whiskey
of damp and the nearby Atlantic. 
He lashed me with his belt, but never with the buckle.

Over his desk hung a photo of soldiers flanked 
by palm trees, somewhere hot and deadly 
where bodies bloat quickly--Midway, Iwo Jima.
He kept his rifle mounted above the chairs 
where we silently ate ice cream and pistachios, 
watched Big Hoss and Captain Kirk.

He loved Madame Butterfly, 
even though the scratched record repeated
until someone lifted the needle. 
He solved crosswords in block letters
his pencil whittled to a nub with a knife,
endlessly sculpted mermaids with my mother’s face.
One morning, in the room with the dead soldiers,
he used the rifle on himself.

I remember the lines above his forehead
his crooked bottom teeth so like mine.
Sometimes I think I can remember his voice.

"Fig Wasp"

                                            “To eat a fig is to swallow ghosts”
                                                                                     -- Kenji C. Liu
Seduced by seven thousand 
flowers within, you labor
to penetrate the unripe fruit. 
Did you know
you would sacrifice
your lustrous wings,  
as you writhe to enter?

You are female 
so you do this thing—
enter pollen-dusted
release your clouds
of eggs, die entombed
within the sweetness
of bruised fruit. 

Your sons blind, 
wingless, born
to fertilize your daughters 
who emerge from flushes 
of succulence, 
tantalized, as were you, 
by the perfume of ghosts. 

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