My father is sturdy. The skin on his hands is meaty and calloused and heavily scarred. The veins dance in thick ropes, the lines cut deep and permanent into pink flesh. I could look at his hands for hours. That pair of hands has lived passionately, and they live independently of the fist in his mouth.
If there’s anything I got from my Daddy, it’s the fist in his mouth.
I bit mine off at the wrist many years ago, but I’ll be the bigger person and say there was too much room in my throat without the silence. Without the fist, I let the words fall out more easily than they should have; it made space in me for a lot of longing. I let soft sighs float out and empty me. I sweated words, I plucked them out of my hair, I let them set my chest on fire. I blindly vomited language until I was hollow.
I allowed the fist to grow back, no longer shaving down my quiet; forearm and trachea fused at every point. Tongue flat on palm, suckling fingertips, teeth gnashing tendons, I had a grip on my own skull from the inside out and it was very romantic.
My father’s fist wanes and waxes with the seasons; sometimes I can’t tell if his mouth has grown or if the silence is wasting away.
The skin on my hands is stretched thin and heavily scarred. My veins delicately snake through; every edge is chewed ragged. These hands are slim and feral. This pair of hands has lived with a stinging weight to them; they do not live independently of my lust for the overgrown stillness & inhibition of the fist in my mouth.
Hanna Harris is a 17-year-old, Los Angeles based slam poet and student. She’s been published in Teen Ink and Bluepepper magazines, and she works for Persephone’s Daughters literary magazine. Her website is here.