Tell us about your father.

The bluest eyes you’ve ever seen
arms like bent branches
powdery dandelion head
a faded swallow tattoo he got
in the navy at seventeen

About your father
The way his face went cold starting from the forehead
The sharp beautiful nose
The back of his neck still warm
No

I’m going sideways.
Throat scraped out / insides bruised
What is there to say?
Let’s start with his hands
gripping the metal rail of the hospital bed
the color drained from the fingertips up
No

The way they were, the way he used
his whole hand to point,
to shape his visions

They say the first thing you notice is
the fingernails turn blue
Well that never happened his hands turned whitish-yellow
and the whitish-yellow crept up from his fingertips
up his arms
which felt like wax or the skin of an elephant or
a raw chicken or
something I can’t quite describe
and they had that horrible mask on his face
like Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet and
I wanted to rip it off and
throw myself into his stiff arms
now cold
No

On the drive home –
I could smell sage and wild lavender and
the musky ocean. The hint of a skunk;
the black road, yellow lines disappearing
beneath the tires. The sea surged blackly, swelling,
hungry, ready to swallow me
Moon and streetlights reflecting
squares of bronze on its surface.

I could feel the night coming in through my window.
Crickets and coyotes rustling
through dry brush. Traffic lights changing
mildly from green to red.
The highway deserted.
I know exactly
how each rock will feel
before I touch it. Sharp & rough
around the edges, chalky, still warm from the sun.

Annabel Graham is a writer, photographer, actress and artist. Born and raised in Malibu, California, Annabel graduated magna cum laude from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study in December 2011 with a B.A. in Aesthetic Philosophy and a minor in French. In addition to freelance writing and photography, she currently works in screenplay development for the Los Angeles-based production company Saturday Entertainment. She has worked in the past for Interview and The Paris Review. Her nonfiction writing has appeared in Pas Un Autre, Surface and Out of Order, and her fiction has been published in Yolk’s THREE, The Courant, and The Gallatin Review. For more, please visit http://annabel-graham.com.

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