poetryrepairs 16.02:019

APRIL SALZANO : The Road to Gendered Road
APRIL SALZANO : Ashing on Yourself

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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