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Dad Says Being Gay Is Like Kissing Your Mother, then Prays

ISSUE:  Spring 2019

Mount Vernon, NY, summer 2001

Sitting on the concrete steps in the back of my grandma’s house, 
our dad shows us how to burn paper 
with a magnifying glass. Says people kill ants this way, 
how cruel it is. It was true: the magnifying glass’s gaze
conjured a fire. We didn’t ask the science, 
just admired the concentration of miraculous light.
The paper turned into herself, 
repeatedly, as if trying to escape 
the fire, and her retreat (further, further) 
would bring the paper to her core, to a spring 
that would quell the consumption,
cool her tongue. My dad saw nothing cruel, 
here. Saw himself doing the right thing. Teaching 
us how to destroy. How at times, 
I’ll see a woman and my skin starts to burn.



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