There’s not much in my dad’s house. Inspissated oils and smithereens palettes, faces pasted in graphing notebooks, ebony scuffs, art gum nubs, portrait proportions calculated in his trim hand. Snapshots of my brother and me, Dad’s two: I’m taller, younger; my brother’s hulking, older, both of us bucktoothed until we pummeled one another, some night Dad was flying at Mieg’s. He resigned his canvases, his fuselage. He slept inside Michigan wants. He’d been a boy, built canoes without guidance, gave his class valedictorian speech. He learned chopsticks in Burma and flew the Hump. His dog tags: they’re tin-light and cheap-looking. We grew up feasting, the three of us split one flap steak, white bread to mop the grease, button mushrooms, milk. My dad told me to remain with my wife and demalice my mother: in the end, I hadn’t been aborted. She may have vanished to California, but I survived.
JoAnna Novak is a writer of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Her first book, It Hurts When You Spread Me So Thin, a collection of poems, will be published in 2016. She lives in Massachusetts, where she edits Tammy.