Todd Dillard: Survivor Parable

Survivor Parable


In the parable as you dream it the seagull

plucks a single hand

from a beach made of hands,

carries it across the world,

drops it in another sleepy ocean,

then flies back to do it again and again

until one beach sinks below the surface

while the other rises, clamors for the flinching sky.


You're tired of telling yourself not to write

about your dead mother.


You're tired of how the piece of you

you deposited in your mother's coffin

is always in another coffin,

no matter how many

you pry open. Life as you write it

is one proclamation after the next:


I will not, I will not, this is the last

time, no more, one more,


and then you write apple and

your mother appears

hungry on the page, you write

suitcase and she's there, folded into it, you write

she said I could be whatever I wanted

and she whispers into your ear

you will never be anything

but the absence I put inside you.


And you know this is untrue

as much as you know the flesh

rising like bread from your bones,

the words roiling like steam in your lungs.


But the truth is, in the parable

as you dream it,

you are not the seagull,

you are not the ocean, the twitched hands,

you are not even the flinched sky.


You are treading water

describing over and over the water,

and over and over

the water says again.

Todd Dillard's work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous journals, including: Split Lip MagazineSequestrumThird Point PressSundog Lit, and Best New Poets.