Read an Excerpt
Phone Wires by Nova Venerable
Prison guards maced my father when I was 12.
He fell asleep on his back that night,
gas braiding down his throat like rain on power lines I wonder if he remembers he woke up screaming for me that I walked him to the bathroom,
cleaned his eyes with cold water and put him back to bed.
My mother used to tell me that my father was disgusting that I didn't have to see him if I didn't want to.
"Tell the cops he's physically, emotionally and psychologically abusive"
like I knew what that meant when I was eleven.
I would wake my father up every night at 9:00 and braid his hair.
Over, Under, Over, Under The grease seeped from his scalp and kept his dandruff suffocating under my fingernails.
"Nova girl, you're gonna come see me more right?
You're gonna tell the judge that you wanna see me just as much as your mother?"
His eyes sagged,
pent up under each one.
"Nova, just tell him you don't wanna see him anymore."
My mother dialed his number and stayed on the line,
made sure that I left my father hung up on other end of chords,
ending my father and I like phone calls.
She taught me to break my father's heart with wires,
my Baba and I haven't spoken since I was 12.
My father's left eye sagged more than his right,
night time prison guard stretched out his face.
He risked his life every for his children every time he drove to Joliet.
His right eye was darker,
kept teaching at Chicago Public Schools cramped in the wrinkles of his skin,
promise he would teach them like he did his children.
Over, Under, Over, Under
After I hung up the phone mom asked me if it was really all that hard to break my father's heart and at 17 I can finally answer her question.
I can tell her I know why our relationship is choking I left father for mother and I wake up cold,
dreaming about my Baba waiting to tell him that I have his eyes.
Want to know if he wonders which college his baby girl is going to.
I can tell her that I hate talking on the phone now I wish I could erase calls from five years ago so I wouldn't have lied when I told my father
"Yes, Daddy, I'm gonna come see you more."