FORGIVE ME THESE
Young, I learned to waste my fists
in faces, learned to break
open as much as possible. At first,
the other kids’ eyelids didn’t swell. At first.
I expected heaving chests, weighted
feet to spines. Stranger, the dirt
knows what it’s doing. One kid’s mouth
full of it, busted, I stomped
a foot down to keep him (forgive me,
please, I beg you). I was ten years old.
I did, I do the things that purge.
The deep, warm dirt: I lived there.
I wilted. The dirt now no idea
what the flowers lived there for—
bullied and simple and broken-stemmed.
Years before I could bring myself
to fight my father, I started low.
My skin not at home.
I know nothing of mud, my body
a glass of warm milk.
I have been the glass and the chips
from it busted, a mess
wet on the floor when the whole glass
was needed in hand.
I love incorrectly.
I am the product of a nut and a screw,
a base-level bone box. Unbroken
limbs that need not be fixed. I am
scared to death of extra bones.
Nuzzle me, Stranger. I am here for nuzzling.
I coped with the cracked and weary, spent
years in the street, in rain,
swinging my arms in a thousand fistfights.
Not yet with him. Wash me of this.
My father in the doorway rolled up his sleeves,
me in the mud, not yet the mud myself.
The crease in a paper boat floating
down the street, I am what sinks.
He called me over. Me, wasted
in the wet of this. Not one knuckle wanted
to so much as touch him, so I busted
my bottle, cut my calf with the glass
and screamed to the thunderhead above me
an inarticulate rasp. I limped away
with his right leg limp. Without
so much as a swipe, I cut him then well
enough, and if this measure lit,
I burned along with it in the pilings,
son no more. No father forgive me, no simplicity
but the shedding of closed doors,
a memory of rain I live in every drop,
every drain-drowned paper boat
abandoned. Hot under the lightning,
left with the lightning.
Brian D. Morrison has had work most recently published in Fourteen Hills, Cider Press Review and Margie. He is an MFA candidate at the University of Alabama, where he currently reads for Black Warrior Review.