Alicia Wilson

Part of You

elegy for my father

Hot hiss of stir fry, vegetable juice
stains the pan. The burn
and slow evaporation
of teriyaki, a thin coat disguising
the bland--you in my mind,
your seven and seven, no ice
next to a sickly child
almost sixty. Carrot
clippings in the trash.

you shout after three whiskey
coffees, high hand, three two's, risking
only ten dollars.
Some stumble onto luck,
you into another state, caring
for a stool that holds you at night
above paisley rug and gum stains.

Undressing at night, I turn,
back towards the mirror
to look for the pink scar taped
across my spine where my shoulders
collide with the base of my neck.
Where I burnt myself
with a curling iron, watching you
watch me in the mirror.

Weekends spent weeding
the dirt berms of
one-hundred and three
avocado trees with a screwdriver.
Trying to sneak
the hoe from the garden-
shed, all along knowing
he would disapprove
of only scraping off
the tops of the weeds.

There is a give and take, an angle
at which the scar
and the ability to see
it collide. I haven't found it, the self
in dirt--only the surface
fluffed with flowering tops
of dandelions.

and all I wanted was to play
Black-jack. "Odds aren't good.
Your mother and I
always played the odds." An investment
gone bankrupt,
as the black and yellow stack of chips
being dragged away
from the rich Vietnamese man
beside you. You introduce me
as your girlfriend, big joke--
proud of your cheeks and my womanness
combined in one body,
because there is an audience. I smile
big, emphasizing my cheeks
and your power
to make me feel proud.

I wash the pan in the sink,
hardly self-conscious
of what I cannot see,
making my neck vulnerable
to the boyfriend. He kisses it,
the figment of you
stained into my skin, pulling it
into his mouth

Snake eyes. Roll and tumble
of dice. The break and scatter
against the back board of the craps
table in my mind
magnified to the ear
as rolling rocks on concrete
from across the room.

Copyright 1997, Alicia Wilson

Alicia Wilson is Assistant Poetry Editor for the Bellingham Review and Poetry Editor for Jeopardy
. She is working on her M.A. in English at Western Washington University.

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