that crack

my father read me one book. 
it was dark, lights all gone but the flashlight he held,
and i can’t remember if i was on top of the blanket 
or underneath. i ache to know,
because the setting here is so important,
because my father, in his tallness and his 
glass-eating, like other fathers, 
but unlike others, he was 
biggest of all,
my father read me one book. 

i ache to know, because he read
me the fox and the hound,
a small disney book from when the films were short and sad
and i remember the fox, and i remember the hound
and how i cried, 
lights all out but the glow in his hands, 
because i met more of his girlfriends than he read
me these books, 
and later, when i would meet gaynelle and tell her
after she asked, that yes, my father slept
in the same bed as my mother
like husband and wife
he dragged me from that house and cracked a flashlight
over my head, that crack
like a gunshot, like chasing the fox
through the woods, because setting is important, 
because we were so far from home, under the trees
i counted to stay awake, there were so many more,
and now, comparing light to the story in front of it.

obituary for the broken branch

when he came home, the sound / the garage door opening, a sick mouth / sticky then the gears would turn, the chain pulling / and the truck creeping in / slower than the pace of heavy breathing / then lights on / then glass sprinkling / along the tile, summer rain / closer, quicker than the pace of walking / until the door flattened, kicked off its hinges / the house speaking echo / the contents of the bookshelf desk and shelves / bang, plummet / then the nose / against the wood, changing shape / a tree, bearing a new profile

Nicole Oquendo serves as an Assistant Editor for Sundress Publications, and has most recently volunteered as a special features editor for The Florida Review. They are also the editor of the forthcoming Manticore: Hybrid Writing from Hybrid Identities anthology. They are the author of six chapbooks, including the most recent, Space Baby: Episodes I-III, as well as the hybrid memoir Telomeres. They're dealing with this prolonged moment of crisis by writing thinly-veiled speculative work.

Nicole’s work previously appeared in October 2016.