My dad went on about his routine, nearly,
after my brother’s breakdown. He tore the vines
from the stuccoed walls outside—the cross vine
and the bougainvillea—he prepped the house
for painting and spoke of the painter, the nice man
who’d come from Mexico and made a home here,
and a family. He prepared a salmon, rich buttery
pink flesh flaking, braised some spinach
and added a touch of lemon curd.
He wrote a poem, about his best friend,
the one who had a stroke and woke up
in the middle of the night and couldn’t swallow
or speak. He wept when he read the poem to me,
and asked about his word choice, his internal rhyme,
the sound of the words in his mouth
a palmful of nails or gold coins,
something that would wound him, or heal him.

Holly Kelso is a career educator, and has made the language and literacy of children and adults her focus for twenty-five years. An English Literature major from Stephens College, her writing appears in a variety of literary journals and publications. Holly resides in Boulder City, Nevada, the town that built Hoover Dam, where she teaches reading and writing to middle school students.

Appears In

Issue 11

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