Harold Tripp’s Daughter Tells a Story

Sometimes we hid under the beds when he got like that,
his anger raining down over the floorboards, hard kernels
of hail, a storm that pushed through him every time he drank.
We knew nothing about the island then, how he lived on a boat,
pulled from his dying mother’s arms, his bitterness reflected
in blank spaces between buildings. I kept thinking he’d get better,
instead he beat on us like the sea, as if we were rocks, the storm
sinking all our ships. Him just whaling, whaling, and us never knowing 
why—our mother caught in the upstream current, bruised about
mouth, nose, ribs aching from the momentum of his blows.
We grabbed at the bedposts, hoisted ourselves out the back windows,
all the time no help for our hating him, no way to understand
what the world had done to him, our pain like crows’ shadows
slipping across the shuddering back of the world.

Issue 25   Summer 2017