Fathers, Theirs and Mine
BY GRACE WANG
Finalist for the 2020 Adroit Prize for Poetry
If I were not a girl, maybe I would be
a lamb. Not the type Father buys
at the supermarket, red and fleshy
with the bone still attached,
(which, when grilled bloodless,
makes him feel more American),
but the kind that Jesus was:
a mouth full of wool to prevent the English
from coming out wrong,
and white all over.
I wonder if Father believes in Christ,
in a savior. If he does, he certainly doesn’t
picture a white man—
let alone a lamb.
Where Father is from, lambs ripen for slaughter
in early October. Now that he lives in the liminal space
between oceans and has learned to speak another language,
which sits thickly underneath his old tongue,
he still refuses an animal as a god.
So instead of a savior, he talks about stocks
and Tesla and tries to figure out a Canon camera.
“If I can master it,” he tells me, “I’ll take pictures
of you, eighteen and beautiful, and keep them
here with me, once you leave.”
Perhaps one day he’ll really do it, just like
how he believes he’ll learn to speak English
without the accent, work out his r’s and l’s
and order from Panera without help. He’s made
a lot of promises; something about America
makes him feel bigger, more powerful.
It must be the lamb—Father and I sit
across from each other at the dinner table
and eat lamb chops, and as his teeth
sink into the warm flesh,
I think of who we would be
if we worshipped them instead.
Zodiac Year of the Lamb
BY GRACE WANG