Your Radiator Hum

By: Julia Wilson

The first and only time I heard your real voice is when you talked about your childhood 

The things your father did, the things your mother didnt

The day your father left

You grew three feet

You went to college 

You started a family

And you passed away

In a matter of seconds

You were only seven

I think that’s when you started speaking with rocks in your throat 

To ignore, maybe hide the fact that you were so weak

When you told me the things your father had done, geodes formed in your mouth and cracked open with your words

Your cheeks bled backyard dirt innocence, I watched you travel back in time 

I heard that seven year old in you crying for your father not to leave 

For your mother to be what you needed

No matter how hard you tried to harden that voice of yours you couldn’t for the first time in your life

I know you do it to protect yourself

I don’t know from what

When you cried that day

I saw gravel fall from your mouth and hit the floor till your throat was light and empty

I watched your vocal chords explode 

I saw a seven year old turn from stone to mush stone to mush 

I watched a sixteen year old turn to a volcano and callous over till he knew no man could never make him seven again 

The next day you came to my house and could no longer fit through the door

You had grown six more feet, we could see eye to eye from my second floor window

You grew a beard and your face wrinkled, you couldn’t stand upright without a cane

I told you I loved you that day

You tried to say it back 

But all I heard was a radiator hum

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