The Woods, An Origin Story

My father watched his father drink their money away throughout his childhood and adolescence

While his mother worked double shifts as a phone operator

And he spent 4am working milk trucks, bread trucks, anything to help make ends meet

His knuckles bled red and his nose contorted unrecognizably with punches

He had to protect

His father smoked his lungs to dust

They never had enough money to stay one place long

Tenement, apartments, homeless they went through it all

My father went home with bruised knuckles night after night until they had to send him to a Catholic high school to straighten him out

But they never spoke of the bruises that came within the walls of their living room

Because my grandfather was sure to leave them with more in a drunken haze

Some days I wonder if my father wishes his mother became a Catholic nun like she wanted to be before

Rather than marrying his father after being swept off her feet

A stubbornness has been passed down like a language

In place of one we once harbored

My father’s family came during the famine and it was never easy

Maybe that’s why we are filled with a fire that will never be put out


Before my grandmother lost it, after the divorce

My father took her out for drinks

She told him “I started out with a piece of Wood and got 5 splinters”

If only she could see what her grandkids are stirring up now


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