boiling/water/memories | trembling/tongue | listen, girl | a poem

the only time my father was happy to be alive

was when he stood onstage


I was nowhere near him


I was part of everything

that he wanted cut off from himself


he hurt too much

and we hurt too much

one room couldn’t hold us all


my father was an escape-artist

past tense

I never knew which one of them

was my father


distance can be an act of reconciliation


you didn’t want to hear me speak

and I don’t want to hear you speak


I’ve endured your monologues

I reclaim my words

and you learn to live with your silence


I revisit your violence

and confront our images

language comes back to me

and I let it live now

I let it come out now

I let it take over my body now

to step out of the corner

that you forced me into

and I make my peace with the fact

that this is real


who is this man

who wanted me to be born

who wants to tear me to pieces


as a girl I was taught to shut my mouth

as a girl I was taught to let things happen to me

as a girl I was taught that there was nothing to enjoy

nothing to endure

I just needed to be present, my body just needed to be present

and absent at the same time, myself, absent, absent-minded

nothing is happening

but I need to be quiet

and shut my mouth


if there’s nothing to tell


I endure my father’s unlived life

My own drawing © Laura Gentile 2021 | Instagram: @melpomenepaintings

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