J.D. Isip: To Break Or Lose
Image: Unsplash, downloaded (https://unsplash.com/photos/NphoMLUL6LE) 05.03.2023.
The Mechanical Camel
I think you think you are giving me
Adrienne Rich, “The Stelae”
The father of my father, I didn’t call grandfather,
died before I could think to love
He spoke a different language, not only
Tagalog of place, but Tagalog of age
that I did not hear or care to.
We forgive ourselves too easily
for the viciousness of youth.
He was one in a vast cast of family
I would beg to love me on weekends
that became every other month
Forgiving my father wasn’t as easy, if, indeed
I ever did.
Perhaps I called him Grandpa—I had to call
him something. Grandpa bought me one gift,
a mechanical camel
A translucent, yellow camel, size of my finger,
tied to a string. At the end, a marble.
My brother mastered the movement first,
tapping the ball to pull the camel
Grandpa clapped for him, for the camel
rocking toward its end. When it was my turn
the camel stayed itself in protest.
Each push of the glass marble only
tugged the obstinate thing in fractions.
Pissed, I gave the ball a hard flick,
index finger launched from thumb.
The mechanical camel shot across
the kitchen table, shattering
on the linoleum.
I don’t remember what happened next,
if he was mad, when I lost the moment,
when I lost the old man.
All I see is that damn camel holding
itself in place, as if it knew
of this younger generation
is to break things
or lose them
About the Author: J.D. Isip published his first collection of poetry, Pocketing Feathers, with Sadie Girl Press (2015). His second collection, Kissing the Wound, is forthcoming from Moon Tide Press (2023). The poems included here are part of a new project tentatively titled All Your Billows and Waves. J.D. writes reviews and interviews, and acts as the microfiction editor for The Blue Mountain Review. He is a full-time English professor in Plano, Texas.