Arsenic Lobster poetry journal Issue Thirty-six
Winter 2014
The Father’s Son
Annie Virginia

This is old and a row of hatchets
hanging on a shed wall.

2 angels kissing because their God is
off to war.

8 hatchets. The boy has counted.
His mother has collected 23

figurines of angels.
They keep her and her son

safe from him. Mothers cannot
protect their sons.

Brian, 5, found missing
his hair and the skin of his palms.

The angels are the kind of guard dogs
the boy’s future lover would examine nervously

in a world where a lover was safe
inside this house.

Restless canines, seraphim. Like hounds, they know
ahead when the father will return.

These angels have each played the boy’s fantasy,
girlfriends, each in different poses.

At night he jerks around.
In the shed the hatchets are quiet.

7 of them.

Steven, 6, found missing his fresh new
molars and the skin of his palms

The boy gets a new toy soldier
when his father comes home.

He hides it away in the dark muffle
of his closet.

It smells like candy and sweat.
He promises his angel he’ll keep her.

His mother sleeps like a fever
in a large bed alone.

Terror is her husband’s hands, but she keeps
her son softly, well-skinned. With skin.

Thomas, 5, once gave a nickel
to the strange and quiet boy

who didn’t know how to play
the arcade game.

Found missing his fingers,
his pocket change, the skin of his palms

The boy pretends, ceramic hard,
to be asleep when the angels bark.

When his father returns.
In his bed in the morning

is a teddy bear with wet feet.
Outside a dark broth hosed

from the shed. The house of a dozen
leather-bound Bibles.

In the woods the deer
stand tense as bows around the property.

Their hair stands on end for the boy
in his bedroom with empty walls

and an angel smothered
under his pillow.

What prayer the angel makes,
she makes for him.

About Annie Virginia

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