Jillian Benedict – Toes, When I think of my Father



Two birds, on wires,

finches, maybe. Plastic casing protects

their little scaly bird toes, prettier

than my toes.

“Take care of yourself now,” Mom says

“Your body will thank you when

you’re my age.”

A calloused reminder of my 22 years.

could be helpful, later when

the finches are gone, their feathers

stuck between a cat’s plaqued teeth and

my toes, forty, yellow, and hard.

Maybe I will have new feet, a podiatrist’s

experiment, a medical marvel.

Until then, I walk with alligator skin along my

tight-rope wires.



When I think of my Father

I see luscious leaves with dancing sun spots. Swatches of yellow- green above me, punctuating the sky and the valley around his cement porch. It was once so grand, now a mash potato valley filled with gravy. Coal, deep within Pennsylvania hills, drawn across state lines behind Norfolk Southern engines, the white stallion on the nose as dad clicks away on his bloated camera. I sit in the car pretending I’m interested for him. The shiny Charmaster gorged on chicken and sausage, flames burn lines into the sweating beef. Dad, flipping, Canadian beer in hand sharing, Suzie Jo’s doughnuts sitting on the dishwasher in the corner of the kitchen. Time passing faster than cold sores. His hair, thinner than before he shaved four years ago. I would have let the fat needle plunge its tongue into my bones to lick out the marrow, if not for remission. Good, but un-trusted. When he goes, I will sit next to his grave with a cardboard Box O’ Joe in his honor on the emerald grass budding from his dirt and I will think of my Joe.



Jillian Benedict is a senior English and creative writing major at Widener University and is the Editor-in-Chief of the undergraduate literary magazine The Blue Route. 


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