The Road to Gendered Road
I love my second marriage.
The way I am exempt
from too heavy and too high,
not by virtue of size, but by gender. The way
this husband offers to carry laundry baskets to and from
the basement. The way I let him,
just as I stand back and allow this man
to open doors for me. Of course I am
perfectly capable. In fact, I do it all day long.
In truth, I have lost count
of how many doors I have
managed on my own. Thousands? Double
if you count both ways. And automatic doors,
inverse proportions in the world of doors,
hands-free, and yet if a man yields at the threshold,
I never miss the cue. Only once did I puppet
his sweeping after-you arm gesture
and insist that he enter first.
My single moment of liberation.
Once I even opened the passenger door to the car
and allowed my date to get settled
before closing it and assuming the wheel.
But that was a long time ago. Doors ago.
A marriage ago. Before I carried the weight of his children
and I bore them into the world. Before I lifted each
to my breast. Before I held open
the doors to his dreams while they closed,
automatically, on mine. Before I hoisted
his boxes of books and loaded them
into the moving van. Before I slid the metal door
shut without yielding to doubt or fear,
though I carried the heavy load of both.
poetryrepairs #221 16.02:019
Ashing on Yourself
I watched you sleep at the dining room table,
the white length of your cigarette, eaten
by the long, lacey ash, bent in its fragility, falling
to break the spell of your narcoleptic slumber.
The giant O of your mouth resumed its coma,
eating the sound of the last choked snore.
You dropped what was left of the cigarette, still
smoldering, into the full ashtray, centerpieced,
where it ignited in private, controlled burn.
Then you were awake again, unaware
that you had left the conversation mid-sentence.
The faded grim reaper tattooed on your shriveling bicep,
sunned nearly black, stood so much smaller
than I remember, its sickle curving around
branch of vein, the color erased from its gown. As a child
these are the things I bragged about: my smoking
daddy, my biker daddy, my ride hard die free
inked daddy. His stereo. His genius
IQ. His diamond earring. His curse
words in perfect Italian, fat, round syllables
of a language I refused to learn. Translation
came later, forced realizations of disappointment
and damage. My first confession
was a lie about lying. Kneeling, I told Father Fabri
of the death of my god-
mother, that I had stopped keeping holy
the Sabbath. My penance remains unfulfilled
some thirty years later, to go home
and tell you that I would like you to take me
to church. As if telling you what to do was ever
an option. The Hail Mary’s were full of grace
that day at that altar. I said an extra
knowing I would not carry out the rest of my sentence.
In the last months of your life,
I guess I knew death was coming for you, the way
we know things in retrospect. I watched the reaper
ride in on his Harley, toward your open mouth
poetryrepairs #221 16.02:019
How the Body Remembers
A high sun, thick with humidity
refuses to take pity
on a bruised body. My son
is nothing like my father.
Yet, there it is—
the connection that rises to greet me
like an old dog,
too much life left to euthanize,
too much pain to simply ignore.
Memory is a kind of incontinence,
an unexpected leaking between one
world and the next. From the grave,
my father is my autistic child.
My body is
recalling how to bend into a blow
without planning, how
to not stiffen at the spine, to remain
limber, like water, how to wash away
the distance between him and me,
how to become
the pain. This kind of forgiveness,
so different than acceptance,
purely physical. He is
bashing me against walls,
all control lost. My hair is in his fists,
my back is breaking with his weight.
There is no need to cry out.
No one is coming to help.
This is not the place for guilt or eye contact,
but where I must turn from the color red,
block it by disconnecting, transcending.
I am elsewhere.
I am nowhere.
I am waiting, waiting
for this to pass.
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APRIL SALZANO is the co-editor at Kind of a Hurricane Press and is currently working on a memoir
about raising a child with autism, as well as several collections of poetry. Her work has been
twice nominated for a Pushcart Award and has appeared in journals such as Deadsnakes, Visceral Uterus, Salome, Poetry Quarterly, Writing Tomorrow and Rattle. Her chapbook, The Girl of My Dreams, is available from Dancing Girl Press. Her poetry collection Future Perfect is forthcoming from Pink Girl Ink. More of her work can be read at aprilsalzano.blogspot.com