Jason Schneiderman
Fertile : Sterile :: My Father : Me

At night he comes in my dreams, pleading,

tells me it’s not too late, that I can adopt,

that I’m hurting him, that if i don’t,

the line ends, that his life will have been

for nothing. I ask why I’m not enough,

and he sighs, looks at me pained.  I say

he’s being melodramatic, pull the covers

up over my head, ask him to go, but then

all the fathers are in my room, the long line

stretching backwards, grandpa before the

stroke, great grandfathers I’d never seen,

and they all go after my Dad, tell him that

it’s his fault, that he raised a selfish child,

and he’s crying—I’ve never seen him cry—

and I say, leave him alone, but I know

I can’t comfort him, that I could never comfort

him, and that they’re right: I am lazy

and selfish and I am nursing old wounds.

I ask them to leave him alone again, but

really it’s just a ploy—guilt, one more of their

patrilineal tricks.  I ask them all to leave now,

to take their united front and go—I try again

to explain: It’s that I want to die alone.

Found In Volume 36, No. 06
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Jason Schneiderman
About the Author

Jason Schneiderman is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Hold Me Tight (Red Hen Press, 2020); he edited the anthology Queer: A Reader for Writers (Oxford UP, 2016). He is an Associate Professor of English at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York, and teaches in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.