Why He Left
I don’t know. I invent so many stories about my father.
I was left on a doorstep, in an open-air market, in a department
store with a Post-It note: Love her, give her water
as if I were a plant. Perhaps he was a prince, a tailor,
a train conductor who gave chocolates to everyone in his compartment.
What do I know? I invent so many stories. About my father:
yes, to be generous maybe he had no choice? Maybe before
leaving he showed me chameleons, blood moons, and other wonderment.
A Post-It note left by a blooming orchid—Love, give it water.
Her roots will grow deep. Maybe there were also orangutans and sea otters,
or maybe he just had other, more important appointments.
Have I ever told you I never really knew my father?
Each night I studied how to be a good daughter.
Now etymologies offer me something more cogent.
Take deracination, from de +racine (root), penned on a Post-It note far from love and water.
Cut off at the stems, my orchids splintered the way the meaning of de fractures
into from and opposing forces. Alone in my apartment,
I invert so many stories: about my father, about strangers.
I scribble on Post-It notes, turn them into paper boats, set them adrift in water.
Shannon K. Winston's work has appeared in Twyckenham Notes, SWWIM Every Day, The Inflectionist Review, The Los Angeles Review, and Up the Staircase Quarterly, among others. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and several times for the Best of the Net. She earned her MFA at Warren Wilson College and currently teaches in Princeton University’s Writing Program. Find her here: shannonkwinston.com.