Back to Issue Twenty.

i dream my father back



Don’t take me down to the dark, where the dog perks up
at her meat supper, teeth barbed

as grape vines. Watch the blood drip down
like wine harvested, purple off the incisors, the dream-

dog’s bird friend perched above my bed, ceiling
red with feather light. I want to wake up, divide

time between the kiss and the oh, my heart gone dizzy
as a merry-go-round, brain ground down

to mush, my lust weakening
the seams of me. Thanks, new boyfriend, sprinting

the hills to find me ripening
beneath the dream ceiling again. I watch its fire churn

like my father’s ashes, blazing, the urn
loaded up, the boats of my eyes

taking on water. Wake me. The dog snaps at my toes,
and who remembers where I stocked

my gun? The bird above me bleats like a lamb
through its beak to quake me with memories

of him: my father running toward me when I clocked
my forehead against a playground pole, the red

soup of the cut dripping, eye socket black,
swelling, Dad’s palm not

sopping up much. Then, the blood got his shirt, dirt
wet with purple humming, and the grass

sodden with my mess. I miss him, I guess,
because dreams plague me every night since

he left, my boyfriend carving my mouth out
with his tongue to help me speak again. Still

the dream-dog raps, the door to my brain-room cracked
and waiting for dark to prick my heart muscle. No light

but red, the bird’s feathers, crimson
as the snow that caught the brunt of my head wound,

my father’s hands, always his hands, moving
over and over to cover

the cut. Remember? Never not remembering, I dream
I scream down the dark, the dog, the bird

waiting, red as a brick office building, my
boyfriend not once in time to catch me before I slip away.


Stephanie Rogers grew up in Middletown, Ohio and now lives in New York City. She was educated at the University of Cincinnati and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as Ploughshares, Cincinnati Review, Southern Review, Pleiades, New Ohio Review, and upstreet, among others. Her first collection of poems, Plucking the Stinger, was released from Saturnalia Books in October.

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