Trio (c) 2005 Didi Gilson
Art by Didi Gilson
Recital by Rebecca Cook

Father In Three

by Rebecca Cook



She’s plastic legs bent over shoulders,
elastic daughter semiconscious under blankets.
See how he rubs her joints and seams--
father fingers up and down each artificial rib,
in and out of her silicon holes.

Dolls like her have no brain for remembering.
She stores her screams inside the silent milk bottle,
holding it nipple down until the white
disappears into bubbles--
creamy empty.


I hid in my parents’ bright orange bedroom in a laundry basket in the closet
with a flashlight and book. I settled my body deep into the greasy smell of my
father's dirty coveralls, his dingy white underwear under my calf resting against
his blue-denim shirt with the pearl snap buttons. I loved to watch him puff out his chest, the shirt expanding, straining, and then all the buttons snapping open at once.

In that moment he was more than God to me, looking up at his bare chest, his nipples golden and hard, his belly button the darkest secret tuft of hair above the shiny gleam of his belt buckle. When he found me, he would pick me up and carry me out to the living room where I sat on his lap and watched my hand lying on top of his. I listened to the sound of his voice, the soft bobbing motion of his throat. I sank into the smell of him under me, the hard inside of his arms, his thick fingers curled round my hand,

his sweet, sweaty smell seeping into me, asleep on his lap.


I wish I could swallow myself.

When I was little I thought
my father would swallow me,
his mouth so wide I fell into it
every time he spoke.

Curved into my bed, my jaws so wide
my arms fit in. My body folds
back on itself like a sack.
My nipples slip past my tongue.
I swallow down my hairless mound,
my thighs, my feet,
the neat package of my toes.

An ugly taste in my mouth wants water,
a drink from the dark bathroom
down the hall.
I lift my swallowed self onto my father’s back.
He carries me to the light.

I drink tepid tap water from the bathroom sink
under the powder blue ceiling,
the naked bulb hangs over my head,
a limp snake with a full throat.

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