Devon Walker-Figueroa is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a recipient of the New England Review’s Emerging Writer Award. Her work has been been published in Ploughshares, The Harvard Advocate, The Nation, New England Review, American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. Philomath was a winner of the 2020 National Poetry Series.
My Father’s House
After hitchhiking many miles to my father’s house, I asked for a glass of water. He
told me it was safe here. I have killed all the pests, all of the rats and the flickers
and those iridescent beetles that used to move through the sky like a glittering
rain cloud, he said. He handed me a glass of his perfect well water and informed
me I would never find the like in the city. I nodded. The water was warm and
smelled like soil. It tasted like nothing at all. I asked my father how he was mak-
ing do and when he pretended not to hear me I asked him if he had a cube of ice.
Help yourself, he said. Feeling grown up, I opened the freezer and reached inside.
But there was no ice. Only an ancient piece of wedding cake and my first pet cat
sealed in a plastic bag. I opened the bag and ran my fingers through the rigid hair.
Each notch in the spine felt like an angry knuckle. I could stay awhile, if you’d
like, I said. But he was looking out the window at his freshly mowed fields, taking
account of his labors.
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