Rhiannon Chavez

Confessions of Fatherhood

He tells me secrets.

He stands in front of the whiteboard, or sits on top of the desk with his legs swinging, or jumps up and starts pointing out the window. Poking the air and stuttering and laughing.

He brings his coffee in a sunset water bottle. And pours it into a clear glass mug every time it runs low.

He puts open books face down so that their spines crack, and types up advice on his laptop at two in the morning to read aloud some afternoons.

He wears basketball shoes and red sweatpants, a cowboy blazer. Comes in with stories of Dollar Tree women and his grandpa down south. 

He has two rings, one on each hand. One wedding, one mystery. It’s black and on his middle finger. 

He lets the nails on his right hand grow long. Maybe for guitar picking or forgetfulness.

He told me I could sleep on his front lawn if I was ever drunk enough. 

He told me if I had no one to come back to I could eat vegetarian food in his dining room.

He’s not mine. He never sent me pictures of whales in Washington. He never drove me down the street to get tortas. He never brushed my hair at the beach. He never built me a blue swing. He never died. He never moved away.

I told him my snow secrets one night. He said they were beautiful. Like whispering voices, like having a conversation. 

So he told me his air secrets. Floating and twirling, there for the taking. I said they were beautiful. I said I would try to use them, catch them in my palms and turn them into things I could see. Things I could feel. 

I believed he could be something to me once. A step-man on the beach, a shape on the couch, a god in green, a poet from the future.

What is struggle of the heart, he asks?

I say, it is cancer, pulsing and growing in your dad’s leg and lung and gut. It is his dry lips against the air, rusting and squeaking out as many words as he can while your uncle dabs a wet sponge across his mouth to make saying I love you a little less difficult. It is the screams of your grandmother that morning, her youngest son gone and green and flat. It is rain in LA, collecting in your socks from the beige umbrella he holds over your head. It is waiting five months to get a picture of the sea over email. It is writing confessions of fatherhood in letters to send to an unknown address on a hill. It is wondering if he could ever love you as much as he loves a pigeon. It is walking to the library in the mornings, looking for an orange house. It is sitting in front of the whiteboard, watching him stomp his feet, and wishing his son wasn’t his. 

Rhiannon Chavez is a trans masculine Mexican poet born of LA, currently based in southern Oregon. Their pieces often delve into themes of fatherless-ness, trans-ness, and Mexican-ness. They enjoy watching deer and getting drunk at the same time. You can find their work in Angel Rust

A Song for Rhiannon

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