Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April Secret Agent #43

GENRE: Contemporary YA (in verse)

This Is The Part Where My Father Dies


At the funeral,

everyone laughed,
but my mom’s voice—
it sounded more like a cry.

She drank too much wine
and laughed too loud at the stories
my dad’s
family and colleagues and friends and students told,
their voices rushing
to fill the emptiness
with anecdote.

They were all

Her lips and teeth were stained
with red,
and when I looked at her,
all I saw was
an empty shell,
a book
without any pages.
Dead but not dead.

She was a stranger,

Sometimes there was a glance
in my direction
for a few moments
too long.

Like sweat,
I could feel it on me.

Nobody said anything.

I had lost
my words.


I couldn’t understand how
there could be
an afterwards
now that
he was gone.

The car swerved to avoid
a deer but
my dad instead.

it was ten months later.
I was fifteen
and ready for high school:
with my knee socks and their elastic bands
slipping down my legs,
with my tartan kilt in green and blue,
with my ring and
my promise
I made him
only weeks before
he died.

I want you
to keep this

until you get married.

The ring slid on
so easily.
It fit
so perfectly.

But it was so much heavier
than the metal it was made of,
and the way it wrapped itself
around me,

like it could never leave.
Like it would be there


  1. First off, your title already makes me really curious, and I'd definitely read on for that alone.

    I love novels in verse, and I really like your beginning here. You've got some really haunting images.

    The only thing that tripped me up was the laughter at the funeral. I picture the funeral as the actual part at a cemetery, lowering the body into the ground etc. and the description seems to be more of a wake or reception.

    Anyway, just a minor detail. I'm definitely still curious!

  2. I adore this. Novels in verse have a tendency toward the pretentious, but the language you use here is very accessible and the images are striking.

  3. I'm a sucker for novels in verse so I love this.

    You set up a beautiful, yet tragic, scene and I"d definitely keep reading :)

  4. This is really moving. Well done! Nice use of language.

  5. Unlike the others, I'm not normally drawn to verse, but this was very moving. You have done a great job of making me see and feel the scene and the emotion. Well done.

  6. Very cool! Like the words, the imagery, and the emptiness it evokes. I can picture the narrator with her school uniform (?) and ring. Interested to see where it goes.

  7. After reading all of the other comments, I hate to sound like a broken record, but...

    I am not typically drawn to verse b/c it often so quickly becomes cliché, but I loved this! The rhythm, the simplicity so accurately sums up the aloof and quick vibe of a funeral.

    I would definitely read more even if it was just to see the writing style of the rest of the book :)

  8. Wow. I love this. It could have been formatted as prose, but set as verse it reads more slowly and powerfully.

  9. I was also hung up on the laughter at the funeral. It might have more punch if everyone cried except the mom who laughed. That would be unexpected.