Too Many Storms by Annie Katchinska
Often, pretending to sleep, I hear my father
in the next room, importantly flicking his books.
Sometimes he hums –
a song from the summer he said he’d hung a thousand wind chimes
in high places, dark places my eyes could never reach –
He hasn’t been himself.
He says there are too many storms on this island,
not enough elsewhere. He won’t explain this word,
insists I learn to play chess then snaps
that I hold the king too tightly
and scatters the pawns. I sweep up bewildered ivory.
Now he walks among the trees, kicking all the foliage;
now he’s taken to wearing robes
of boiling velvet, whirlpools of blue. He kneels by the shore,
his hands running through bright shells,
half-weeping over the clockwork tides,
promising freedom to the air.
I read his books in secret,
thumb the pencil-scratched footnotes
he keeps me awake with. In them,
children have wings, monsters are conquered
by other monsters, men who look like my father
line their wrists with stars and everywhere
there is furious physics,
a sense of time running out,
talk of splintering ships