My dad’s letter sways the mailbox slant.
    His name, reduced to a number, weighs
heavy, loosens the red plastic flag
    from its hinge.

Prison is a war zone,

Our ancestors of broken men pull up
    chairs beside me. One passes the letter
opener, the other pushes away
    the tissue box. This is what I know

I spent six months in solitary.

about fathers. A right hook cracks bark
    like lightning, and that they are always
looking for their own father. Fingernails
    digging at the dirt, too proud to admit

I work in a shop that makes clothes for officers and prisoners.

six feet under is pretty damn deep.
    This is what I know about grief.
It is the wailing of every falling tree
    in the forests we’ve grown

I get paid 20 cents an hour.

inside our chests. If you listen close
    enough to any man, you’ll hear
the prisoner he’s made
    of his own sorrow.

All of this is hell, honestly,

What today have I watered by witnessing?
    Will I too become victim to the split
lip moments of my life? My father writes less
    and less, and I wonder how often death

but worry not!

accompanies him like a disease
    in the dark. How easily a lineage is
severed by a letter that never arrives. How a prison
    cell eats far more than time.

Ezra Fox explores the subjects of lineage, queerness, and spirituality in their writing. Their poems are in or forthcoming in Zone 3, Poiesis, Glassworks, Sagebrush Review, and elsewhere.
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