Father in the well with his bright buttons. His eyes on my face above. His long beard like sand. My hands on the rope. My rope on his throat. He made it this way, you see. Sister’s blue neck. Sheep in green hills of silence. It’s been a long summer.
Mother’s neck till she almost choked. Sister, she walked funny. The apple not ripe, but Father had to take. Water from the well washed away the blood. I bled too, remember. How can I forgive myself? Cherries, full of light. Grain thick with purpose.
Before Father, his father. Sister lies unblinking. Teeth on the pillow. Need to run, you see, but can’t. Mother not breathing. Father laughs and takes another drink. I hide in the forest. Water lilies sing white. Bugs on the surface.
Got his buttons in fake war, a fake hero. Mother, Sister, gone. Father’s vicious smirk, stink, drink, sweat. A path of bones has led us here. The child of a child with a broken face. Wind, a kind presence. Perfect dawns unnoticed.
Father by the well. A small push. Sister, Mother smile in my head. Father and his screams, his anger. My hands on the rope. Father in the well. Safe. His hands were blood. Water in the well cold, clear, like memory. Yellow, red eyes of apples. A pause between field and forest.
All blood that flowed, I bled too. I didn’t die. How to forgive myself? Woods, green gaps of time. Tender haystacks full of shadow.
I’m in the well with Father. Stars stare down. Not long to wait. Father, already cold. Cold inside bone. Each life a promise, but we poison water with our bodies.
Born in Russia, A. Molotkov moved to the US in 1990 and switched to writing in English in 1993. His poetry collections are The Catalog of Broken Things (2016), Application of Shadows (Main Street Rag, September 2018) and Synonyms for Silence (2019). Published by Kenyon, Iowa, Massachusetts, Atlanta, Bennington and Tampa Reviews, Pif, Volt, 2 River View and many more, Molotkov is winner of various fiction and poetry contests and an Oregon Literary Fellowship. His translation of a Chekhov story was included by Knopf in their Everyman Series. He co-edits The Inflectionist Review. Please visit him at AMolotkov.com.