The light inside the office feels trapped. Above us,
plastic panels clutching fluorescent tubes pulse.
The office never changes: a large print with a path
to draw the eyes past the forest in the foreground.
Potted plant. Tissue box. Chair. Couch.
The therapist asks if I am ready.
The average height of a father is seventy inches.
Last week, I sat in the same awkward triangle with my mother.
The average height of a toddler is thirty-six inches.
I stare at a spot on the ceiling, an old water stain
or trick of light, I’m not sure. Today, I swear I see
a face, a Rorschach portrait waiting to be unlocked.
The average length of a small banana is six inches.
This is my time of rebellion. My time of no. Nineteen,
dropped out of college, my parents desperate to know why.
Things a toddler might want to lick: her mother’s breasts,
a popsicle, an electrical outlet, dirt, a board book,
a set of keys, an ash tray, the dog’s nose.
I fixate on the forest in the print, imagine standing up,
crossing the room, climbing into the scene,
and leaving my father and therapist behind.
Things a teenager might expect a father to say
in response to allegations of abuse: “How dare you!”
“I love my daughter. I could never hurt her.”
What my father says: “When she was two or three,
she saw me naked on the bed. She asked what my penis was.
I said it was a banana. Then I asked her if she wanted to lick it.”
Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 19, Issue 3.
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