As a boy my father got locked out of his family’s farmhouse
during a blizzard in one of the harshest winters on record.
His skin would have greyed along with the gunmetal sky,
veins freezing dendritically if not for a pickax to the lock.
What explains our propensity to build spaces we often end up
outside of- alien to? Even worse, destroying upon completion.
For example, recall that morning you traced my clavicle with your
mouth, called me beautiful boy-
and my first reaction: to raze the crops, burn down
the house we had built with a fluency in one-another for which
no words existed. I can’t help but imagine our relation to God is
not unlike that of a painting which did not turn out the way the artist
envisioned. To miscreate on such a level will require
an epochal display of atonement- a litany of first-kisses
at the county fair, tantrums of peach trees, solace for
every black cat whose mystique was taken for quiet death.
To admit fault is to shed self, be it flesh or something less
tangible. The theory of the soul is helpful in providing comfort
for the fact that corporeality is like an origami finger trap:
the harder you try to pull yourself out of the body, the bolder
the limits of the vessel you’re seeking to escape become. With
creation comes ownership- or at least the argument surrounding it.
Is possession the result of having given birth to, or simply wielding
the requisite force necessary to hold a thing until a greater strength
enters the ring? I’ve endured so many daybreaks rife with wet-brained
petrichor that felt ironically baptismal. You can tell so much about a
person by what form they believe their savior will return in. For some
it’s the appearance of a stray on the doorstep, others the names of
lovers spoken into January air. As for me, I’ve never viewed salvation
as a likelihood, much less an option. However, I have always held a certain
weakness for the wild colt learning to turn its stumble to a gallop, the
decaying glow at the height of an evening’s thinning, the subtle wavering
of a voice bathed in forlorn yearning. Once on a Greyhound bus a man
showed me an old photograph of himself and told me the white blotch in
the top corner was his angel-father, a sordid liturgy in which I learned I will
forfeit reign over which strange places people will later see me in upon my
exiting the room.
Michael O’Ryan is serving as a poetry editor for the University of Oregon’s literary magazine, Unbound Journal, for the ’18-’19 academic year. His recent work appears or is forthcoming in pioneertown.,Peach Mag, Five:2:One Magazine, Alien Mouth& elsewhere. His poetry was included on Ampersand Literary’s Summer 2016 “Best of the Season” list. Find him on