495: Naming Ceremony

495: Naming Ceremony

495: Naming Ceremony

Naming Ceremony
by Hafizah Geter

Read an automated transcript.

My father, who spends most of his days painting

pictures, says coming home to my mother

stroking out was like walking in on an affair.

Bending, he demonstrates how

an aneurysm hugged her

to her knees. Over and over,

my father draws a loss

so big it is itself an inception, a story

he knows better than the day

his daughters were born.

Every retelling different:

bluer, then redder.

His memory bruising the neck

of whomever he can will

to listen.

His heart is strong.

He has the receipts:

a scar on his breast

that I’ve cleaned like a smudge on a window.

Over and over, my father draws me

a picture of the crescent moon

fishhooking her hospital room.

He loses the story

for the pleasure of finding it,

his tongue the builder

of a maze. I can tell you

our best days weren’t glad.

He’s a history

whittled down to this

single story. In my version,

when her mind blew,

boys I barely knew

played Beirut, cans of Pabst

crushed against their shoulders,

white balls flicking

into crimson solo cups, 

the night lost to the drawl

of a far-gone gurney.

"Naming Ceremony," by Hafizah Geter, from UN-AMERICAN by Hafizah Geter, copyright © 2020 Wesleyan University Press. Used by permission of Wesleyan University Press.