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Good Father

Nick Soluri

In the snow I cannot  
hold any weight I'm given.  


Hanging on the wooden  
shovel handle like the boy  


I will never grow away from,  
it seems that his rock hard  


hands could cut clean  
through blocks of ice.  


Its better somewhere else  
on the Earth. In a corner  


another boy is riding a horse,  
learning knots, preparing for war.  


If there is a place where hands  
can be washed clean and returned  


to an imagined purity, it is never where  
the father has been. Sons take  


what is passed down, given portals  
and asked to close their fathers’ pasts.  


When I cannot hoist the snow  
over my shoulder, he laughs,  


shows me how to tense  
a bicep, position  


my shoulders. It’s like asking  
a bad soldier to relieve  


his morals. It is like asking a soldier to stop  
thinking of his country first. I am not  


a soldier, I can never be anything  
other than gentle—a pressed face 


in the soft snow. The right  
lighting feigns immortality.  


I cannot scoop all that is asked of me  
into hands I never hold. Instead,  


I remind myself: for every callus  
there was a choice.  


But what makes the callus,  
must forget the bruise.  


When the day is finally finished,  
we build a fire. Crack a whiskey.  


Near us, the heaps of snow  
glow white against the siding  


of the house. In this lighting, I can see  
the weapon of his body uncovering.  


He hands me a glass, hurriedly,  
before I can say otherwise.  


The mounds of snow glow white  
against a black sky, impossible stars.

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