Rachel Kramer CC
Tilting to Rainbows
The sawdust paled mystery of it all. My father’s
shop: jagged toothed saws and spinning blades.
The stacks of rust-twisted antique tools he has
collected from flea markets throughout Canada.
Sometimes I would sneak to the door, creaking
it open, and peek inside. Wanting only to know
all of him. How each individual hammer worked;
how his hands grooved themselves hard-calloused.
I hope he never learns that I did not understand
when he told me how to check the oil in my car.
I nodded as his hands churned through November air.
My jaw tensed. I simply could not grasp the slick,
dark mathematics of oil changes. I never absorbed
the impassioned words unfurling from his mouth,
syllables slamming into winter air and turning mist.
Watching the viscous goo slide blackly around the
dip stick, I furrowed my brow as if listening intently.
When really, I was off with the grackles and the robins and
the lone predatory crow gathered by our many bird feeders.
How terrible is this now? That I ever daydreamed
my way through a moment with him. That I could
surrender even a second’s flutter of time with him.
He wanted me to be able to change my own tire,
check my own oil. Wanted me to carry pocket knife
and flicker of flashlight. Now he is slowly dying,
and I will never tell him that I didn’t understand
how the oil, tilting to rainbows in winter sunlight,
could be measured just by sliding and staring.
The slick dip stick; fortune teller for station wagons.
Now he is slowly dying, and I want to ask him again
precisely how thunder works; what it’s like to birth
a baby calf; if he cried when his pet hawk bit him.
I want to open the door to his shop all the way, scurry
inside. Run my fingers through the metal clatter of nails
divided by size. Cover myself from head to toe with sawdust.
I’ll turn myself into a ghost, wan with wood shavings, so he
can’t haunt me when he finally has to go. I’ll be
more ghost than girl. But never more loss than love.
Robin Kinzer is a queer, disabled poet, memoirist, and editor. She’s an MFA candidate at University of Baltimore. Robin has poems and essays published, or forthcoming, in Kissing Dynamite Poetry, Blood Orange Review, fifth wheel press, Delicate Friend, Ice Queen Magazine, and others. She’s a Poetry Editor for the winnow magazine, and Poetry Editor for The Broadkill Review starting in 2023. She loves glitter. She can be found on Twitter at @RobinAKinzer and at www.robinkinzer.com
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