Nick Flynn
Father, Insect

      After her

bath, as a way to apologize for all

 

my imperfections, I remind my

daughter, You know, before you were

 

born, I was not

 

a father. She takes this in

silently, moving a tiny blue elephant across

 

the carpet. If you weren’t a father, she

eventually asks, then what were you—

 

a bug? We’d been looking at pictures

of cavemen, talking

 

about evolution, about where we

came from, about all those

 

who came before—Are they us?

she asks. I

 

told her about the carbon in her

pencil, about hydrogen bonding

 

with oxygen, about bacteria with

only one thought in their tiny

 

heads—she

 

used her finger to write it all out

in the air, creating each

 

word as I spoke it. When

did want become more

 

than hunger, when

 

did need become more

than shadow? Ecclesiastes warns

 

about the making

 

of books, of which there is no end,

this chain of meaning, this

 

offering—the book we both will write

today into forever.

 
Found In Volume 43, No. 03
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Nick Flynn
About the Author

Nick Flynn is a professor on the creative writing faculty of the University of Houston. In previous incarnations he has worked as a ship’s captain, an electrician, and as a case-worker with homeless adults. His most recent book is The Reenactments  (Norton, 2013); his next book, My Feelings, is forthcoming (Graywolf, 2015).