An Undergraduate Literary Journal from UW-Milwaukee

To My Father

by Katarina Merlini

First, form. Darkness over the surface of the deep.
Gather the sky. Then, the waters.
Your arms are bigger than mine, and twice as dark.

If you move, you’ll slip into shadow.
If I follow, I’ll lose form.
My inheritance is the undoing.

What came first: the headache or the hammer?
What came second: the crusade or the change?
What came third: the curse or the river?

Laying cement with your father when you were fifteen
he hit you in the head with a shovel.
I don’t think you ever forgave him.

What came first: the fear or the loathing?
What came second: the secret or the mistake?
What came third: who you were or who I wasn’t?

Small bits of mercy in a large bottle,
the spaces between span the width of a river.
I don’t think I ever forgave you.

And there was evening. And there was morning.
Made in your image, set me in the vault of the sky
and seal me in with water.


Katarina Merlini is a poet, writer, and alleged human being who studies English and Psychology at the University of Michigan. When she’s not dressing her dog up in thrifted sweaters or tending to her windowsill cactus collection, she enjoys working as a mentor for local LGBTQ+ and at-risk youth.