Conversation with My Father

Wanda Deglane

I am filling a father-shaped void with 

the sound of your long-awaited silence. 

I am filling it with men who could never 

hope to be what I need. a soothing voice 


on the radio. a charming man on TV. 

a cloudy face in a dream. the fact that 

I’ll never meet any of these people 

already make them infinitely better at this 


than you. the blame falls on yesterday 

for today’s splintered agony. you’re 

blindfolded, swinging wildly like we’re 

grief-spilling piñatas, rather groom the faces


you’ve beaten than just say forgive me.

take a look at what you’ve been missing:

here is the cemetery our backyard

has become. the grave where I’ve buried


my own name. the gap on my tongue

where the word dadused to live.

here is the swell and fall of your wife

like sea tide. the shaky fingers with 


which she stitched her own wounds.

here is the swallowed fury of your son,

and the holes it burnt into all his organs

like dropped cigarette. here he is lying


unresponsive. here is the beast taking 

shape in your youngest daughter, surviving 

planted in her heart longer than you and I. 

storms and bitter poison, childhood friends 


lost in a wailing cyclone. unspeakable pain 

we can’t begin to fathom. here is a house 

caving in on its weariness, the walls sighing 

in relief as they crush us flat. here is 


the sleeping avalanche you keep poking. here is 

the pistol you hide in the darkest corner of 

your closet, underneath heaps of dusty 

wedding clothes and dreams giving in to 


disappointment. here is its comfortable smooth 

in my palm, the fact that I’ve known where 

it’s been for years. here is the fact that the next time 

your hands raise, I won’t fucking hesitate. 


are you listening now? have I got your attention? 

I’m screaming in your face, blustering and 

uninterrupted, and this time, you’re going to listen 

to every pockmarked, raw-skinned syllable. 


how will I stomach all this? 

what will become of our bruising?

look at everything you’ve done. 

look at what you’ve made us into.


Wanda Deglane (she/her) is a Capricorn from Arizona. She is the daughter of Peruvian immigrants and attends Arizona State University. Her poetry has been published or forthcoming from Rust + Moth, Glass Poetry, L’Ephemere Review, and Former Cactus, among other lovely places. Wanda is the author of Rainlily (2018), Lady Saturn (Rhythm & Bones, 2019), and Venus in Bloom (Porkbelly Press, 2019).