"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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