I have been thinking about being a father a lot lately. I want to be one. Badly. I want to be a father. People would see me walking down the street with a little boy or girl and know that I fathered them because we share similar features and I use a loving yet stern tone of voice to teach them things. Things that a father teaches his son.
To that end, here’s a monologue I wrote today. I don’t know the genesis of this piece really, just that I was thinking of Demeter/Persphone. I mean, c’mon, everyone thinks of them on a daily basis, right? This is called
The Daughter of Zeus and Styx
DEMETER stands among piles of broken china. She’s barefoot and tall with hair like your mothers. If you don’t have a mother, close your eyes. Her hair looks like that.
She wears a red poppy behind her ear.
I prefer to eat with my hands.
Especially when I’ve cooked steak- hold the vegetables. They get stuck in my teeth.
Gripping the meat I’m about to eat,
causing the remaining blood that hasn’t been
to rise up and fall over my fingers like aged Merlot, it reminds me that, yes,
certainty does exist in the world.
In that moment, I am certain that I stand (for I always stand when I eat) at my dinner table gripping a piece of meat.
Then, I take the flank into my mouth, down my throat, passing through acid and tubes until it lands, gracefully. Here.
She pats her stomach as if telling us she’s pregnant. A piece of china, bone white, falls and lands in the pile at her feet.
“Hush little baby, don’t say a word. Momma’s gonna-”
How are we expected to be good parents?
Another piece of china, bone white, falls and lands in the pile at her feet.
I prefer to write letters in ink from India. The permanence ensures me that my words will never be washed away or erased.
Imagine if it had rained during delivery or the letter were to be misplaced?
What happens then?
Indian ink commits the words, the contents, to time, to the ages and that’s what I prefer.
I’m starting to show. My dresses, so lovely before, considerate of my geography, pull tight here and there…they move against me, unlike before. I can’t escape it.
He came into the kitchen that day, when he had found out, and stood over me as I sat on my chair, at the table,
the same table at which
I eat my flank of steak
and I washing the china when he looked down and breathed a sour breath onto me.
He would have looked beautiful
if I didn’t know that in one bite,
like my flank of steak,
he could be devoured.
A bead of sweet sweat leaped from his forehead and landed here, on my tongue, as he told me:
“You’re going to have that baby.
It will be a girl.
And we will name her Kore.”
I dropped the china, a shard bounced back as if out of revenge and sliced my palm. The red beaded up and for a moment, I thought I was eating with my hands. You know, the steak.
Instead I stood up, ran my slice under some warm water and closed me eyes, laughing to myself.
How are we expected to be good parents?
Especially when we couple with those whom we hate?
A night of him inside of me and we’re responsible for the life of a child. But in a way, responsible for all children. Kore will be pulled from me, like a pineapple pulled through a garden hose, and will meet your daughter on the beach and your son in a store and your child and yours among the flowers, and will hit them and kiss them, buy them birthday presents, teach them to weave, steal their jewlery and offer a blowjob behind the shed and I’m somehow responsible?
Another piece of china, bone white, falls and lands among the piles at her feet.
I left my letter on the bed and I took Kore with me. She was inside me still, almost ready to be born, and I went to a doctor, a great one, and I told him quite simply, that I needed not to be a mother. I delivered her three days later. Into his arms. He was surprisingly unsweaty, and didn’t smell sour, and instead smiled at me and kissed my forehead upon delivery. He gave me painkillers, you know, for the pain nd sent me on my way.
But with, now, for the first time, a clear head, unclouded by china, or Indian Ink or steak.