Lake Effect, Volume 25: "Specter"


By Audrey Gradzewicz

for Lauren B.


In a diagram of my body in which violence

is pinned to my left ventricle, my father stalks


the red-tiled hallways of my heart as a clock

with a bruised face chimes mourning! Over


the broken minutes of childhood, my father

confesses: I hung a man from a tree,


and every part of me tries to become the sh

at the end of hush, tries to open to a silent,


unmaimed world where the man my father killed

smiles mutely at me, traces his jawbone


with his thumb to sign girl and I ache

for the cradled arms that would complete


the sign for daughter. Even the ghost

of a ghost is terrified to claim me. Last night,


when a man hurt my friend, I imagined his spine

as a stick I could break and break, wanted


to beat him into a sadness I could bury

in my hands. But how else to say I love you


than become a charging bull? Even the earth

retreats from the tenderness of snow.