A Catalogue of Moments as Told to My Bedroom Window

I.
Today, my father is a hummingbird against the screen,
and we are candles crossing the distance.

He is twenty-one: a prophecy of laughter
counting pigeon feathers, and I—the sand,
waiting his touch.

Today, the surgery. Fingers swell ripe as harvest moons.
His wedding ring will not fit past the knuckle.

II.
I am trying to describe the failures of gravity
and my grandmother is dead,
buried in a church with no roof.

But today she is a child, pulling away blackout curtains,
watching the dogfights: strange blossoms
in the garden of our violence.

My mother is born in this house,
once a soldier’s hospital.

My father flees a different war.
And I am a riot horse,
still kissing his blood.

III.
Today, the same cemetery
where—twenty years ago—we are remembered
as prayers pebble-smooth.

And I am sitting in this room—five hours now—
hoping to touch a dead boy through the window;
again and again, my mother writes one sentence.
There is no metaphor in this.

IV.
All these todays ago
I pull ferns from my wrist.

With hands ration-strong,
my grandmother holds the river’s slope,
drinks the tree-dented light
till hawks flower from her grave.

Today, the funeral;
today the stones are named
Teacher and Priest.

Today, my father laughs like wind
fresh-born from the mountains.
There is a city in his throat;
it too is dancing.

 

 

 

 

Zachariah Claypole White is currently pursuing an MFA in poetry at Sarah Lawrence College. Previously, he managed the independent bookstore, Flyleaf Books, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He graduated from Oberlin College in 2017, with a major in creative writing and a minor in English literature. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including Sand Hills Literary Magazine, Scalawag, and The Hong Kong Review. He won Flying South’s 2021 Best in Category award for poetry and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He uses writing to navigate his lifelong struggle with anxiety, depression, and OCD.