HOW STILL MY LOVE
My dad admitted me to the hospital after he found me writing DEATH DOWN HERE in crayon on the basement walls. It took me twenty years to get there. I dared the graveyard to emerge underneath the floorboards. It aimed for my sleep cycle instead. When the night upended, I had to write something dirty. So I called a friend.
I was only seven years old but it took me twenty years to get there. I told my dad it felt like hell. Wasn’t hot and there was no measure of time. I breathed as I wanted. I could not speak. DEATH DOWN HERE. I produced the graveyard from a restless fever dream I saw on television.
Aren’t basements portals to our collective underworlds? Why couldn’t he understand? Why did he abandon me? Today he makes a lot of money in D.C. and found love above ground. He and his darling live blithely in a condo with a balcony. On the telephone, I told my friend I chase men on the verge of dying, because they are hungry, because my body does not rot. Smells like sprigs of May laurel, they each say, smiling.
My dad punished my friend and me for our written invocation to future ghosts. My friend went home until 2008. Twenty years after my dad forgave me, one ghost showed up drunk. As a husband, first in flesh, at a basement party, we danced. After I left the hospital, I drove to your town in hopes I could breathe your air. Your air did not enter me as it did before.