Every Story is an Origin Story

Todd Dillard

HALF-TRUTH

 

We are the stories people tell about us.

 

MY STORY

 

He left.

 

MY BROTHER'S STORY

 

He came back from war the way a volunteer stumbles out of the magician's box

having been sawed in half, unsure he is intact, wondering if there's still a cut

inside him, the crowd's applause a thick and suspicious humidity.

 

MY FATHER'S STORY

 

Single mother, eldest son of five, a wooden house the color of dead teeth,

a field behind it burning, always burning,

always asking in a child's voice where are the children.

 

MY MOTHER'S STORY

 

To empty the bottle is to fill the bottle with yourself.

 

MY MOTHER'S STORY

 

It doesn't matter which hands as long as they hold you

until you tell them let go.

 

MY MOTHER'S STORY

 

Hair that turned white at the age of 16,

heavy handgun aimed at the drunk ceiling fan in my brother's apartment,

blood blooming in the brain, ironing the sulci smooth,

pine box and amazing grace bag pipes.

 

MY MOTHER'S TRUTH

 

We are the stories people tell about us, but our sequels begin as our own.

 

 

MY SEQUEL

 

When there is snow

there is too much snow, but no snow

is not enough snow.

 

MY SEQUEL

 

Couch poor and drunk,

MFA, Brooklyn, salt-coarse hair

the color of the ocean horizon at night,

sea foam hands, gasp,

I do, I do.

 

MY SEQUEL

 

I show my daughter

the trick of speaking into cups.

 

I scream

a muffled confession.

 

When I'm done

she pulls the glass

 

from my hands,

tilts it toward her ear.

 

MY SEQUEL

 

He's never coming back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Todd Dillard’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in McSweeney’s Internet Tendencies, Electric Literature, Best New Poets, and Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. He is the recipient of a grant from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and his chapbook The Drowned Hymns is available from Jeanne Duval Editions. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and daughter.