March 27, 2017

William Fargason

UPON RECEIVING MY INHERITANCE

I said Thank You father for giving me
this disease that will one day bind my bones
together at each joint Thank You genetics
for passing this down to me and not my sister 
perfectly healthy Thank You for choosing 
me Thank You bones some days I can’t sit up 
without crying some days I can’t sit up at all 
Thank You painkillers for your blessed strength 
when I have none help me not feel Thank 
You doctors and doctors and doctors and every 
room I waited in for you I still wait now Thank You 
mother for your company every room is less 
empty because of you Thank You father for all 
the years you had this disease undiagnosed blamed it 
on lifting lumber or the years of contact sports 
father you must have felt the same pain but didn’t 
have the words for it yet didn’t know how to 
voice pain except with your hands except to ask 
more of me at the table scribbling my homework 
with a dull pencil Thank You father my heart 
has a tattoo of a heart with barbed wire wrapped 
around it Thank You body I left myself came back 
and realized I was still there all along Thank You 
mirror the body is always more reliable 
than the mind Thank You hands I can still form 
into fists underneath the sheets Thank You 
doctors for telling me that if my bones fuse 
I will be like a tree Thank You for that metaphor 
Thank You for the images of Dante’s forest 
infested with harpies Thank You river water 
fir trees open air I have tasted your sweetness 
and turned away Thank You trees for your resistance 
in every thunderstorm that passes outside 
my window I wake up and still see the oak tree 
standing Thank You rain I can only hope 
to add rings beneath the bark I can only 
hope to one day be cut down and counted

from Rattle #54, Winter 2016
2016 Rattle Poetry Prize Finalist

[download audio]

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William Fargason: “I write with what I’m given. And part of what I’m given is a chronic arthritis condition. I tried writing ‘Upon Receiving My Inheritance’ five years ago, but it turned out terribly. I think I had tried to write it too soon, had rushed it, and the pain hadn’t actualized yet. So it took me those five years to get it right, or right enough.” (website)

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