Persephone's Daughters nominated this piece for the 2021 Pushcart Prize.
Content warning for descriptions of animal abuse.
somewhere in the desert of Nevada a dog named louie
died in a dumpster at the hands of my father.
many years before my father killed him, he broke me too.
it’s been eight years since I’ve seen him & I wonder
after all this time would he still know my eyes?
I can’t say, but I am sure louie would, & I would
know his the way survivors of the same war
feel like family upon meeting for the first time.
my father once drove me through Red Rock at sunset.
the canyons romanced me into forgiveness
& the stars flashed their approval into the night.
but the years after brought the usual birthdays forgotten,
graduations unattended, cocaine-dealing prison terms served,
the vacation he chose over the funeral of my sister who lost
her battle with him, with herself, with this world.
then the guilt I suffered because when she took her life
she was still angry with me for forgiving him.
ask louie about forgiveness
ask louie about my father’s eyes.
he will tell you that they are not blue like a bruise
or blue like drowning but blue like Neptune,
the planet farthest from the sun, something you could spend
a lifetime chasing without ever feeling sure it exists.
ask louie as the pipe came down against his skull,
as the pain gave way to something we who survive
have no words for, if my father had stopped
within an inch of his life had lifted him
out of the trash and cradled him in his arms
would he have held on a little longer?
Joan Kwon Glass is a biracial Korean American who grew up in Seoul, South Korea and in Michigan, and now teaches and writes near New Haven, CT. Her poems have recently been published or are upcoming in Rust & Moth, Rattle, SWWIM, Rogue Agent, South Florida Poetry Journal, Sublunary Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, West Trestle Review, The Mantle Poetry Journal, Wondrous Real and others. Her poem “Cartouche,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Joan tweets @joanpglass and you may read her previously published work at www.joankwonglass.com.