Defying Stereotypes Since 1976

Poem: Letter to My Father

Dear Dad: have you ever seen the
burning blade, the straight edge of a knife’s
tongue? From this, we are branded with bruises. This silence,
this tradition of disguise, is a generational curse,
a baton passed from Grandma to you to
me – and I am still running.

Look at us, Dad. We are made
in digital. I have an older sister that looks like
a broken computer, and another one that looks like
a robot. And you – you look like Data, pieced together with
mud-colored skin, hair like black fizz, and a positronic brain
second to none – but you’re different. You’d
tell Picard how to captain his ship. Send Geordi out of the room
while you rebuild the engine of the USS Enterprise out of
old Toyota and Mazda parts. You’d find a way
to make that mutha run on dilithium, even trilithum. The
best engineers in the galaxy would cream themselves
with envy.

But I am paper. An android made out of
the deaths of trees, flattened and bleached. My digital parts
are all up inside my head. You must have known: didn’t you ever notice
how my corners would rip when you’d raise the volume of
your voice? But inside, I am
glass. The thing that beats inside of me
is made out of melted sand. I can feel its fractures
when I breathe.

Why do I burn? I am a paper bird. The truth of our
mis-wired brains is a firebrand that I clutch inside my beak
as I fly — maybe that explains why
I leave a trail of ash behind me as I walk. But my
feathers turned black long ago after I tried to hang
the sun, the moon, and the stars inside every house
that we ever lived in. Do you remember,
Dad? They hung and blazed inside my smile, inside
my scattered Saturday mornings of watercolors and Bob Ross, inside
the piles of books inside my bedroom, inside our trips
to the park where all we needed was lilac blossom, sunshine,
and our hands locked together like transport. But one day,
the stars crumbled, the sun burnt himself inside out and died, and
the moon stopped speaking and disappeared inside
a black hole.

Tell me, how long did we eat our young? The truth is,
we are all glass inside. This is not your fault, Dad; this is
something we learn, something we do as a family. We
tribe of aliens, we Hebrews on Egyptian soil, we of the shattered heart
who will not even dare speak of what makes us strange. I am
just as green and extraterrestrial as
you are, as Grandma was, as those two other sisters
are. But I would like to leave Saturn and live among the natives
in full spectrum color. I have been inside him
for too long.

Written 4/29/10
© 2010 Nicole Nicholson. All Rights Reserved.
Original poem published April 29, 2010 on
Raven’s Wing Poetry.

Comments on: "Poem: Letter to My Father" (4)

  1. [...] that is me playing my father in the video shoot for my poem, “Letter to My Father” which be submitted for the Art of Autism exhibit this November. The video was shot Sunday [...]

  2. [...] short film for my poem, “Letter to My Father“, will be shown during the [...]

  3. [...] can see all of them in the short film for my poem, “Letter to My Father”, which I uploaded today to YouTube. This film was featured at The Art of Autism Exhibit. The poem [...]

  4. [...] on my poem, “Letter to My Father”, and is a digital art print on photo paper. “Letter to My Father” appears in the 2012 edition of The Art of Autism, which is now available for purchase from [...]

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