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.
This is the body of man.
And then the war followed.
Copyright 2010 Chris Abani
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.