Kristin M. Distel is a doctoral student of literature at Ohio University. She also holds an M.F.A. in poetry from Ashland University. Kristin has recently presented papers at The University of Oxford, The University of Manchester, the Sorbonne, and many other venues. Her poems have been published in Coldnoon, The Minetta Review, Flyover Country Review, The Broken Plate, The Stockholm Review of Literature, and elsewhere. She has recently published scholary articles on Toni Morrison, Larry Levis, Natasha Trethewey, Phillis Wheatley, and Mather Byles.
December 14, 2016
Inside my father's stopped heart,
it is darker than a black road
covered with a patina of invisible ice.
Once, his atrial walls must have been
the color of bright blood,
of the red stains that covered his Bible
in the front seat of his F-150.
Between his motionless valves,
memories are stacked like
the rows of perfectly folded
white socks in his top drawer —
my brothers' eyes
and the rich tenor of their voices.
The slick mane of his pony, Shy-Ann,
and the dirt that coated his boots
when he buried her.
The smell of snow and December sweat,
frozen mud caked on his jeans
from Sunday afternoon football games
with his brother and sons.
Flecks of black paint from his
rebellious sixteenth year, when
he painted his bedroom walls
while my grandparents slept.
A hand-scrawled Angela —
the name of my mother.
Inside my father's still and darkened heart,
I light my way with the fire in my hands,
appraise these memories like
piles of bones, his body a catacomb.
When I was thirteen, I watched
his chest rise and fall and tried
to match my inhalations to his own.
Minutes before his heart went dark,
his pulse throbbed to the tempo
of "Angelina" —
two heartbeats for every breath —
the song he played on repeat
in his one-bedroom Florida apartment,
months after he signed divorce papers.
The sound of his low tenor echoed —
You're chasing desire, playing with fire.
You're telling me lies with those faraway eyes.
You're dancing on glass,
In dreams, I climb through his body,
peer between cold vessels and arteries
and look for my name. At the funeral,
a mourner, a woman who had known
my father for ten years, asked who I was.
Her eyes narrowed and her small mouth fell open
when I could only say my father's name
and couldn't remember my own.
Glass: A Journal of Poetry is published weekly by Glass Poetry Press.
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