To Dance With My Father

by Golden

            for Tilden Avery Golden

boy untitled. stomach splitter. my son. I forgot
my dreams. when you were born I filled you in
the blank everyday. oxygen & ink. my back spasms from all I seed.
I carry my clots home to your mom. I would live there if I could
afford our freedom. my first brother knows what that means
now, spilling with song. my second brother is faded from his bruises,
splattered with scotch. no one told me how much I would break
while being a father. I didn’t shatter you. don’t call me fat omen,
don’t call me a home haunted, don’t call me gone
gone—don’t disrespect me like that—like you don’t know
who I am. I drove you to the therapist before myself.
fuck me? I trained you for this. this black hiding. this police parenting.
you forget I have to duck too. subtract every bullet from this world
& you’ll still end up someone’s sin. Dad said, if you can’t balance
a checkbook how can you hold a child, a gun, a myth,
a pedestal, a parent.
I did what I knew how to hold. I don’t understand
the way you paint your face with your mother’s smile. but I see
there’s god in you. we made you this way. sometimes love,
sometimes disappointment. I raised you with a silver sponge.
I am my father’s scratching, my mother’s illnesses she keeps hidden
in her jewelry box. & yes we can call them ill now. their dying. that’s growth.
everyone is swimming away from me, & I’m not sorry. I am a parent, that way.
we want to fix everything we didn’t have. we are children,
that way. this is how I became a man. I am your father. tell me I did
nothing & I’ll tell you about the carcasses I collect in your baby book.
a dozen sons’ tongues taffied out to be your red carpet. I remember my dream
now. me fist deep in someone’s soft dessert for you. can you hold
my fathering in your mind when you think of me? do you think of me?
even when I spit, even when I am hooked in your jaw. myles, Golden,
son shine. you fly like a crow’s wing, like a lesson’s lesion,
like your mother. I’m learning the ground is the sky sometimes.
you hear me? I’m trying to fill in my blank. to live up to my own name.

Golden (they/them) is a black, gender-nonconforming, trans-femme photographer and poet raised in Hampton, Virginia, currently residing in Boston, Massachusetts. Golden is the recipient of a Pink Door Fellowship (2017/2019), an Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Luminary Fellowship (2019), the Frontier Award for New Poets (2019), and a Pushcart Nomination (wildness, 2019). Their work has been featured in the Shade Journal, The Offing, wildness, Button Poetry, BuzzFeed, i-D, Interview Magazine, and elsewhere. Golden holds a BFA in Photography from New York University and is currently a City of Boston Artist-in-Residence.