“Seeing My Father’s Penis” by Rage Hezekiah

Rage Hezekiah


My father stood, and the black horn of himself slipped
through the fly of his boxers in our Floridian hotel room. Flaccid,
it looked like a mistake, gathered and external—
accidental. He was oblivious, walking between the queen beds,
while my sister and I sat giggling in Disney pajamas. This part
was not what I expected, dark skin folded under vulnerable skin
at the apex of his legs. At eight, my mind conjured a pink cartoon,
the relic of an animated film I borrowed from my local library.
The white women kept my card stored
in a small plastic box behind the children’s desk. I loved watching
their manicured hands, flicking through the cardstock dividers,
fetching something only mine. The laminated card I’d signed
with amateur skill birthed a new freedom, my young mind teeming
with too many questions. I was ravenous for answers like a wolf pup
seeking carrion. In the room with my father, I had too long to inspect
his body, understood him knowing would mean shame. Rosie and I hid
under quilted covers, wordless and quaking with nervous laughter.
We took turns peeking out from beneath our homemade fort,
                        confirming it was still there
                                        hanging in the air,
                                                        an apology.

from Rattle #62, Winter 2018


Rage Hezekiah: “As a child, my curiosity about the human body was paramount. The memory that brought forth this poem is one I come back to again and again. I’m so compelled by the strangeness of learning about the forms and functions of the body as we age, and how our ideas about our own bodies and each other’s bodies evolve.” (web)

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