All the cracks I have in me are mine.
My father seldom cries,
but when we speak of incomplete men
he admits he could never
hold back rivers or the sky,
that he himself was bound by cassette tape and chicken wire,
a stack of driftwood and wrought iron,
little more than a cornhusk doll.
I have rummaged the remnants
of his childhood room
for some plan
of me coming.
Found the baseballs and bobbles,
(how he was his, how I am mine)
learned to place a record needle on the part
of the song that we all know,
never by word, only
He peels back the layers of himself
and I see the ghosts that inhabit his sternum,
their empty hands pressing all sides of his heart:
the rhythm of a sock hop,
the stoppage of a thunderstorm,
the beat of a ballad unending.
In a language of old stories going and new
days dawning, I am a valley of our decisions,
putting my pen to a book I did not write
but am writing now,
crossing all my bridges on hushed feet,
sneaking back into that childhood room
to move the needle a little further on the
record, trying to figure out where
my father’s cracks end
and mine begin.
Gabriel Seals lives in Nashville, TN, and received his MA in English from Belmont University. He is the 2016 recipient of the Sandra Hutchins Humanities Symposium Writing Award in Poetry. His work has appeared in the Tennessee Magazine.