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Histories 4

by Chris Abani

When I was five,

I tried to fetch water from the unfinished septic tank

with a plastic teapot for my sister’s tea party.

I fell, the weakness of water-eroded wood giving beneath me.

What kind of son betrays his father like this?

As I emerged, I saw he was about to leap.

Maybe that was why he beat me so much.

Maybe it is too much for your father to believe

that he would give his life for you.

And who can blame him?

I wanted to be a son you could be proud of, Father.

I killed the way you taught me.

But I liked dolls and tea and playing with my sister.

Forgive me.

This is the body of man.


And then the war followed.

from SanctificumFind it in the library

Copyright 2010 Chris Abani
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Published in Chris Abani Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.