My Godfather Votes Trump

Maya C. Popa

At twelve, he teaches me to dress like a girl, my brother to drink
and swear in Romanian. Harmless in that way that awaits practice,

eludes danger when the light’s unhurried and long. He tends
a mutiny of white hydrangeas with dexterity disguised as care.

Names failures like flowers, which culture’s laziest, what color
can’t learn anything at all. In his study of injuries, intrinsic

shortcomings, strangers always abandoned their own,
letting sons get fat, join gangs, rape, languishing in payouts

drawn from his paycheck. Regretfully, we looked out the window
at the world. Nothing he taught us stuck. He blamed our mother,

loved women until they became people, human in some
repellent way. It was like watching bitters made, the root grown strange,

poisoned in its own perception. Still, he suffered his conviction
he was cheated, while better days awaited, preserved in the past,

layers of ice to some murky bottom. No one knows what will hold.
The hydrangeas take on color, copper. The season turns over

with perfect indifference. And I am twelve again, November, under
duress by a language, its failure to imagine the present world or next,

a recklessness my godfather seems to have authored. A darkness
that has always existed at the edges, demanding a license for the night.

Maya Catherine Popa is a writer and teacher in NYC. Her chapbook The Bees Have Been Canceled was a 2017 Poetry Book Society pick, and her second chapbook, You Always Wished the Animals Would Leave, is forthcoming March 2018. She is a member of the English faculty and oversees the Visiting Writers Program at the Nightingale-Bamford School in New York City.