Kate Ransom

Ode to Divorce

My father never forgave my mother
for her happiness without him
especially on lonely, winter nights
when his house creaked 
and air sat silently on the floor.
He gave me their honeymoon photo,
the soft edges peeling around dents
from a wallet, their smiles 
glowing through yellowed paper.
My father filled my room with Valentine toys
that I arranged perfectly
so no one could 
see the smeared ink stains 
where he wrote my mother’s name.
At supper, his promises curled 
around my throat, and I breathed
in their ripped syllables. 
When I watched my father sweep
quiet misery under the carpet, 
I dragged the heaviness from the air
and laid it before him in offering.
Our suffering trapped beneath the floor
I can still hear it thumping.

Paper Fathers

i. the memories

When did you become a ghost? Did you 
sew your ears into the walls? 
Do you count my breaths as I sleep?

You broke off pieces of your misery 
and placed them in my mouth
like crushed candies.

You dropped your loud words
and tension on the dinner table. Mixed them
into my mashed potatoes. One night

you tightened a lock to my lips,
and asked my young hands
to hide the key. I only did

because my mind was a light bulb
freshly cracked.

ii. the cleaving

You stitched stories into my skin
and my mouth would twitch into a smile.
Even though you never once

rocked me to sleep, or wiped the bubbling
tears off my cheeks. You were only gentle if
I was a perfect flower nestled in the window.
Weeds tangled around my neck
and I slowly crumbled. You found 
pieces of me hidden under blankets,

inside plastic cups, tucked into
the arms of stuffed animals. You
dumped me in a neat pile outside your door. 

iii. the words 

Your shouts cling to my hair like morning dew.
They cut through my paper skin and melt
into my thoughts. Burnt petals dance

around my slippers and I breathe them in
to suffocate the words I want to say.
I bury the words I killed outside your door.