After you learn every story your mother told you
caught hard in the back of her throat.
After your sister finally tells you what happened the night
you didn’t pick up the phone.
After the picture frames, the wine glass, and your vows
lay broken on the floor.
After you remember every racist thing you said as a small
town white teenager. After you realize that no amount of
present day enlightenment will make those words unsaid.
After you accept there are things you will never know
about your father or the man you love. After you accept
that each reminds you of the other. After the night they
met and shook guitar-calloused hands, staring each other
down with matching blue eyes.
After he asks you to marry him, and you say “Not yet.”
After you find your underwear in the dark curves of a
stranger’s sheets and leave before sunrise. After you,
sobbing, confess what you’ve done, and he does not
There is shame. There is fear. And there is this dizzying