Nov 9, 2010


Written by Dan O'Brien

Read by Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Our father and I are down on our knees
side by side, with razor blades in our hands
and rags in a bucket to wipe away
the ancient glue. This glue is like the blood
in the heart of the lamb we dissected
in school. It makes black crescents of our nails
and stains the heels of our hands. Turpentine
can’t bring it up alone. So we must scrape
this scabrous raw floor with our blades until
our wrists and fingers ache. We never speak
a word, only breathing hard and sweating
into the clots we brush away, listening
to the grind of the razor and the slap
of the rag, the hitch in my father’s throat,
his low, anxious breaking of wind. Like monks,
he says. Or do I imagine he’s said
anything to me? His father died young,
of his heart. His face is flushed, and the vein
in his forehead arrives. He orders me
to finish on my own. I’ll be working
for ages alone. I’m glad that he’s gone,
I breathe easier now. I work harder
now, too. On my knees, this monk whose fingers
ache for heaven. Whenever he returns
he’ll find our floor is finished, perfect soon.