Cover 14

War Story with My Father

Topaz Winters

Any dream, as long as it begins
            with treacherous. With mercy
                        borne back & aching from the
            fingertips inward. If I’m lying
through my teeth, at least I still
            have the long way home. If this
                        is where my father ends, at least
            I still have his hands for ransom.
I say you are every reason I cannot
            blink anymore
& he says you can’t
                        blame me for all of this gasoline.
            enough for the knife & the
tongue. After him there are no
            ways to make dusk small again.
                        No method to serenade grief
            soft enough for the streets to
swallow. You can’t undo glory.
            You can’t force a home to
                        unwind & fix itself. My mother
            tells me that my father only yells
because he is afraid. Finally,
            something we have in common.
                        I see the hurt in his eyes when
            I flinch as he tries to hug me &
I want to say it’s not your fault but
            all that comes out is I swear there
                        was a time when I didn’t starve in
            this language.
Dislocation in car
window & my father spins
            creation on the rooftops. All
                        my little achings with no sleep
            to dampen. So many things I
invent to avoid rescue. My
            father comes from a long
                        time ago, sings hemorrhage of
            black & human. His eyes like
a night helpless in forgetting.
            I say these are dangerous times to
                        be a daughter.
He says enough
            with the metaphors, you’re making
your mother sad.
I speak these
            vowels without oxygen to
                        spark a murder. Fury is just
            as human as fear & every girl
I’ve ever brought home tells
            me I smile in the same way
                        as my father. I’m beginning
            to understand why, even in
sleep, all hospital parking lots
remain full of hope: home is
                        not my father’s hands, but
            rather, the light they reflect
when burning.

Topaz Winters is a poet, essayist, editor, creative director, speaker, actress, & multidisciplinary artist. Among her internationally award-winning & critically-acclaimed creative credits include working as the author of three books (most recently poems for the sound of the sky before thunder, Math Paper Press, 2017), writer & star of the short film SUPERNOVA (dir. Ishan Modi, 2017), creative director & editor-in-chief of Half Mystic Press (est. 2015), speaker of the TEDx talk “Healing Is a Verb” (2017), & creator of the digital art installation Love Lives Bot (est. 2018). Her work has been published in Cosmonauts Avenue & DIALOGIST, profiled in The Straits Times & Expat Living, & commended by Button Poetry & the National YoungArts Foundation, among others. She is the youngest Singaporean ever to be nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She was born in 1999 & resides at, & in 2019, she will begin studying literature & film at Princeton University. She enjoys chai lattes, classic films, wildflowers, & the colour of the sky when nothing is dreaming of it.