Visiting My Father for the First Time in Five Years by Natalia Prusinska

Natalia Prusinska is a finalist of Streetlight Magazine’s 2019 Poetry Contest.


I took the jar of jam sealed with heat and wrapped it in old
towels. I placed it carefully in my suitcase among the new
clothes and carried it home. I walked into an empty
apartment and immediately unpacked the jar and placed it
on the counter. I tried to open it, but couldn’t. I turned the
jar on the counter, every quarter-turn hitting the metal rim
with the blade of a knife. I tapped the edge of the jar
against the floor, accidentally breaking the tile in one spot.
It still wouldn’t open. I grabbed the jar and ran it under hot
water, thinking that would help, then twisted the sealed lid
until I heard a pop. I looked down, at first confused at the
still-sealed jar of jam, and then after a moment, I noticed
my wrist like a knotted tree. It grew, the way I wished
azaleas would, in front of me. I didn’t know what to do
next, how to wrap my wrist, or who to call. I walked
around holding my wrist out in front of me, cupping the air
around it. I grabbed the jar with the insides of my forearms,
thrust it into the fridge, and texted my mother, “He frced
me to openn my3self.” She said, “Forgiveness, too, can be
exploited… xoxo.” I waited for her to drive me to the
hospital feeling like I was ten again, my parents still
married, and my mother rushing home from work or calling
us from Rt. 9 to ask if we were still safe.

Natalia Prusinska is a first generation, queer Polish American poet.

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