walls, or construction of the family

                              after Franny Choi

by Mariela Lemus

my father erects a wall through the family room, the room we spend the most time in & it takes months, living in a home under construction takes much avoidance. the plastic tarps, milky membranes I can hear his voice through, his voice, risen sharp as the machetes he keeps on the walls, his voice cuts across the family room, no more room for him, his heavy tile-struck step approaching &  with ease, I watch my father sever the drywall off the studs. a powder keg, he storms, balled tight & still, not breathing out of ragged lungs, our heads heavy with clouds he hung about the house years ago, echoing the gutted family rooms. & as the oldest daughter I take his voice, the one from our childhood home holding my head, a vice with teeth & as the oldest I close his maw, no more threat within reach, walled off three daughters grown the fuck up. still, I can hear the man of the house sealing secrets in our walls.

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