I can no longer deny my windshield
needs replacing, that I was raised not
to let my flaw creep into my fault
years after that gasp of spring in July,
glass on the curb slicing my knuckle after
my father let me out of the Radio Flyer.
Barely a minute in the park
and I was already being carried home,
held on the toilet seat as he rummaged
for alcohol behind the mirror, a cotton
swab soft enough to hide the sting.
I hollered as the fire built on
my hand, a scar I struggle to find
these days—a line fainter than memory.
The being hurt sticks more than the pain.
How did he justify his fear of infection to me;
hold still, it’ll only burn a minute?
It is his comfort I forget; he gave me less
of a brand to remember than a lesson
buried in a slither of tissue beyond repair.
And still, I learn by punishment. No bigger
than a pebble, whatever grazed the windshield
left an impression and dug deeper into glass
as if it were sand, insurance says.
Nothing happens overnight; dirt spread
and weakened what it touched while I
watched traffic lights cycle and the sun
keep its habit, unable to see
the divot unless a headlight passed,
the angle right; waited too long,
he would say, to swab the gel
to halt the crack’s spreading across
the horizon, dawn breaking in
half in front of me as I drive, my burning
eyes unable to look away.
Geoff Anderson curated Columbus, Ohio’s, first poetry shows for biracial writers (The Other Box), translation (Lingua Franca), and immigration (New World). He’s a Callaloo fellow and his chapbook, Humming Dirges, won Paper Nautilus’s Debut Series (2017). He has work on/forthcoming in Tinderbox, Juked, and Glass.