FINISHING THE HOUSE/Susanna Childress My father swallowed a moon back in the '80s and did he ever shine bulb-hot when he was mad and did he ever take his mind to a thing and turn it right-side-yes with his hands: secondhand bikes at Christmas, a nectar perch for Mother's birds, a Slip `N Slide on the hill of our third acre, which was the only apology we got that time he challenged my kid brother to a fight and kicked me, gurgling a contrition he couldn't make out, away from his feet. Consider the word irregardless. I will put up the corner shelves irregardless my father's black hair painted into the terracotta wall, though today he's 14 hours away in Indiana, preparing for another day at school, pulling the knot of his tie, unwrapping a lozenge, kissing my mother with a tickle in his throat and nothing on his mind. The week he drove down he painted every room but one, he woke in the dark, made coffee, opened a new package of roller naps. Consider the subtle mechanism of sorrow: do. And now the wall with my father's hair, which will not stop being there, satin latexed to my house, a small lever undoing his hand from my throat, just that once, seven years ago. He is states away, enunciating for the Japanese children who cannot say his name, perfecting a tease and a grimace, turning over a word he loves to use, its useless prefix, its coming press, Irregardless, he used to say, the trouble with you is you. Little one, he calls me now, though I am grown, Sweet one. Susanna Childress is a graduate student at Florida State University and a recipient of the Life Career Poetry Award from the National Society of Arts and Letters, an AWP Intro Award and the Foley Poetry Award. Her work has been published in Bellingham Review, Runes, Fourteen Hills and Crab Orchard Review and is forthcoming in the anthology And Know This Place: Poems of Indiana. THE MISSOURI REVIEW
The Missouri Review – University of Missouri
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