by Stephanie Liang
My father’s skin felt like rubber, a stuffed chicken
Cold, not wet. Not my father anymore.
Is he my father if he’s in a box in the ground somewhere in
Missouri? I don’t know where—you have to pass the
Go Chicken Go fast food joint that looks like a drug front
My father lives in the ground next to a little girl
I know her face and her name but not what happened to her.
People always want to know what happened.
My mother bursting through the double doors
at church past the coat room with no coats
I don’t know the row number of his grave
or the funeral home name. I could find it if I tried,
but I don’t. My mom asks if I want to visit his grave
– I don’t. Both of us standing in front of a pile of dirt
that we refuse to speak of. As my mom and brother
make small talk with my father, I would count the minutes
until I could leave. Stare at the other headstones or
at the other grievers. Want to ask, excuse me
does this ever feel lighter?
Stephanie Liang (she/her) is a Chinese American poet whose work explores grief, family, identity, and longing. Her work has appeared in Rainy Day and Runestone Magazine. When she’s not writing (or thinking about writing), she is exploring new places, trying new foods, or playing music. Stephanie is originally from Kansas but now resides in Chicago. Instagram @stephcapades