Monday, January 16, 2012

Lighter Today

She's lighter today. Not floating, drowning. That hospital blue blanket is the ocean and her body is sand underneath, deep where it's dark, down where the fish are afraid to swim. Down where the monsters are. The medical doctors, the nutritionists, the psychiatrists, there seem to be a lot of them and they are not happy with her progress. The feeding tube is back in.

I brought her in here myself, physically carried her. She's a bird, I thought. I will throw her into the sky and she will flap her broken wings. She will fall and fly, fall and fly, and eventually she will be okay and she will fly off into the clouds and she will build a nest in some tree and she will do the other things that birds like to do.

It's not really about food, they say. She feels inadequate. She feels out of control. She is lonely. She is depressed.

She's my daughter, I say.

Has there been trauma in her life? Has she been molested? Are you physically abusive? Do you have unrealistic expectations of her? Has someone close to her died?

These are the questions they ask of me and I cry because I am her father.

There has been trauma, I say. Somebody close to her has died.

It is common, they say. But don't worry. Girls and boys recover from this. Adults do. People in their forties. In their eighties. With family support, with medical attention, with psychotherapy people recover. And some of them die.

There is a payphone downstairs, outside the hospital where people smoke. I see people on payphones and I wonder who they are because nobody uses payphones anymore. I'm calling my other daughter who is overseas and I'm letting her know that her sister is lighter today. I'm using a payphone now because I have left my own phone at the cemetery. I didn't just leave it. I was angry and I threw it against a headstone and it shattered all across the face. And then I left it there in the dirt because I do not want to explain to people why my phone is shattered all across the face.

What can I do?

There is a young doctor in the room now. Your daughter will not survive, she says.

The other doctors, the nurses, they are not happy with this young doctor. But I can see it in their faces. They do not disagree.

Fathers carry their daughters, I say. I will hold my breath and I will swim to the bottom of the ocean. I will retrieve each grain of her and I will build with her, a sandcastle like when she was seven. A princess out of sand. And the wind and the waves, they will not dare to knock her down.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dead Reckoning

That painting of yours ... the red bench in the woods ... it's hanging on the wall above our bed except I've painted over the bench with a bear and he's dead. There's blood streaming from his head because he's been shot and he's checking Facebook on his phone. He's alone. It's dark, no stars or moonlight tonight, deep within this acrylic and oil on canvas with ink. The bear is you, I think, and I'm the bench, replaced, or the bullet, depending on who you ask.

We met, back then in the diner. You knew my friend and I was drunk and you in that dress, you were so pretty, didn't you know it? You ran your hands through my hair, your nails across my scalp and I was a dog with a broken leg; you took me in.

And we fucked.

Your dad and I talked about football and Bukowski and he stocked his fridge with my kind of beer. Your mum said I was queer and giggled on account of I don't know why. She always hugged me tight when we said good-bye and then she died of cancer. At the funeral you read that poem I wrote and you cried in the car. We swam in the ocean.

And we were happy.

When you graduated I quit my job. A year in London and Paris and love and then we drank champagne and quit smoking weed because you got that job at the bank.

And we bought a house.

I slept at night, warm next to you and I dreamed I was the captain of a ship. You were a pelican and I asked you to guide me through the rocks. By dead reckoning how could you not say yes? We'd safely navigated channels just like this a hundred times before. Then, spying a fish you dived down deep into the sea.

And somehow you drowned in the thickness of it all.

Of course, now I see what you were telling me all those years ago with your brush and with your paint. A red bench in the woods, it's beautiful, how quaint. But it's not natural; it's out of place. It's me on my knee, green grass, at the beach, sunset.

But I didn't drag that bench into the woods.

We built it with our hands and our bodies and when people asked about it we smiled and we knew.

You are not a bear.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012


My hairdresser gets frustrated easily. I know this on account of she just told me. She's shaving the back of my neck with a straight edge. "It gets kind of crazy back there," I say, because I'm bad at small talk. She laughs and agrees and I say "well not that crazy" because now I'm embarrassed about how much hair I have on the back of my neck and she says "no, this is pretty crazy."

There's a boy waiting to get his hair cut and he's talking too loudly.

"Inside voice," my hairdresser yells at him.

"I like the tickley razor thing I want to look like a soldier I AM NOT A BELIEVER GOD IS AN ASSHOLE," the boy rants.

"He must have a disability," my hairdresser says.

"Where's his mum?" I ask, thinking my hairdresser probably wants to talk some more about how frustrated she is.

"She's out there drinking coffee, talking on the phone," my hairdresser says. "This is not a fucking babysitter service."

The boy kicks something and it makes a crashing sound.

Then the hairdresser at the next chair over says "no kicking" and my hairdresser says "Jesus" and the boy screams "I AM NOT A CATHOLIC" and now his mum is back and she says "it's just something that people do, like a tradition. They get baptised. Just because you get baptised doesn't mean you are a Catholic" and I realise I need to cough but I can't cough because there is a razor sliding up and down the back of my neck and then I do cough.

"Oh, I've nicked you," my hairdresser says.

I can feel blood on my neck.

"That's okay," I say, but it isn't. I'm in an old single file war tunnel and there are people in front of me and behind me. It's a school camp and I'm trapped. The tunnel is only as wide as my body and it's dark and I'm freaking the fuck out.

I'm on the Caterpillar at the Rotary Fair. The cover is on and it's loud in my ears and we're going too fast. I'm screaming for my mother but the man is giving me the thumbs up. He thinks I'm having fun.

I'm living with my girlfriend. There's a Monet print on the bedroom wall and we're watching Greys Anatomy. She's telling me about that time she turned her eyelids inside out and now she's telling me about the time she caught her teacher snorting coke at the yacht club and I say "oh yeah, you told me about that" and then I think ONE BILLION TIMES and I wonder, statistically, what are her chances of dying. Like cancer or drowning and I don't know how other people get out of these situations. My girlfriend is nice but seriously how cold can you make the air-conditioner go?

I look in the mirror and this is actually the worst haircut I've ever had. Even worse than that time my friend told me about the $3 haircuts at the beauty school. My hairdresser holds the hand mirror up for approval of the back cut. There's still blood on my neck and it's on my shirt. And I see back in the wall mirror that my hair is all, it's just, it makes me look like a fucking idiot.

"Looks great" I say but I'm thinking about how my socks are too tight and could I maybe undo my shoes here in the hairdresser and take off my socks and then the kid with the disability rips off his cape and runs out the door.
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