There are 177,147 different ways to knot a tie
and they don’t want you to know any of them.
Even the people that made you.
My fathers collection, it’s own chaotic sanctuary
of colors only my curiosity seeks refuge in. I spend
time never asking him to show me how he overlaps
and folds into a windsor. It's not that I love ties.
It's that I see who he becomes and I want to become too.
The first time I remember tomboy replacing my name,
I wanted it sewn to my chest labeling me who I am
until their “you’re a girl, and girls don’t”slip stitch
my vision, feeling hidden but exposed.
This is when my fascination in things I wasn’t supposed
to like, begins. Digging my hands into anything that would
stain them, proof that I was a part of something real.
I’m old enough to almost reach the counter when I refuse
to wear another dress so I twist myself into clothes that are
not my own. Middle school is when I realize I like Chelsea
with the hoop earrings but I’ll learn to just be friends
because this one stoplight town isn't ready to know me yet.
The store doesn’t know how to help and I don’t know what
to ask so I buy my first tie through ebay for $5.99. Playing
and pausing too many videos just to get it right. Always
misaligning my shirt and calling it my clumsy button
rebellion but she loves me for this. It will be another decade
until I hold my partner’s hand in a store designed for men
and their wives.
But, one day I will have 40 something ties hanging on framework
welded by my hands and she will pull me in by the seams
to say welcome home.
I See You Even In The Dust Clouds
It feels like 2:19 in the morning for hours when I miss
you most. Sinking to the ground of any room to study
the coroner’s report of you
Time of injury: approximately 2:19 am
Immediate cause: Multiple Blunt Force Trauma
Due to: Pedestrian/ Motor Vehicle Accident
Pronounced dead at 3:15 am.
I never counted the minutes until now. Fifty three. I wanted
to hear they had it wrong, say it wasn’t my father found on hamilton
boulevard. That these cops showed up t0 the wrong address, knocking
on the wrong door. But her loose hands and unsteady keys drove away
from the highway bar’s last call. It’s been twelve years and you never
came back from that night,
as every voicemail unsaved.
I saw the farmhouse was up for sale again.
How different it looks dressed up in another family’s visions,
every memory striped and painted over. But I remember
the planks of ash not allowing silence beneath our feet
and first nose bleeds cured with tampons. I still feel you
fumbling to make my brown curls into ponytails, snapping
more rubber bands in one sitting than what comes in a pack.
The backyard, my fish cemetery and the front yard, everyone
else’s. My favorite wooden banister I folded my body over
just to let go, making music, hitting every spindle like
a harp on the way down. Standing short enough to reach
the counter, bent over solving fractions. Every inch
of stone touched by your hands and your woodshop
where I watched you make dust into clouds. The shutters
are no longer black and the trees are overgrown.
I used to write you letters you’d never read,
envelope sealed with my 17 year old spit and stashed
in any drawer I knew I wouldn’t open.
It’s been twelve years of the wind reminding me
to move even when it becomes louder than you.
Sam Toggas [she/her] is a welder by trade and poet by training. Her street art and poetry has been published in Toho Journal. She lives in Philadelphia with her partner Hannah.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.