I look in the mirror and see the face of my father staring back smiling faintly he's twenty- two and getting ready for a night out check shirt on hair slicked back his face is my face but I'm not there not even a thought in his mind yet I'm not his not yet the boy he would drag up to his shoulders giving a better view of the world just as he wasn't mine yet not yet the man who would recount the stories of my childhood over and over again like the time he held me over my half-brother's head four months old as if an offering to god kicking my little legs at the air until my half-brother felt the warm dribbles of my piss run down his face or the time I bust my bottom lip open on the neighbour's concrete block was told I had been running wild in the garden on a fine summer day I didn't moan then didn't cry nor when I split my head open a year or so later so I've been told had my head bandaged in cheap tea towels died red my scalp dangling by the mere threads of what skin remained so I've been told and I didn't whimper didn't say anything at all just sat still and quiet on the bed while the doctors stitched me up glued down the fleshy crown told me I was brave gave me a smile told me to be careful in future more seriously than how my father told me when we got home amidst my mother's vicious tongue lashing out about one thing or another how he had not done as she had wanted how she was tired of his shit he smiled at me then too I remember that the slow tug of the muscles of his cheeks and again when my mother launched a pint of milk across the caravan watched it spray against the hoary walls then groaned that she would have to go out and get more and then when my sister and I shuffled into the hallway barely twenty years held between us to the sound of their artillery words her volatility his departure a glance back the tugged muscles a faint smile a look with no need for words and I imagine it is how he smiles in the mirror before me now just as I smile to bury unhappiness behind the lips
Dale Booton is a twenty-six year old queer poet from Birmingham. His poetry has been published by Verve in their Diversity anthology and The Young Poets Network. Most recently, his poetry has been featured by Ligeia, Queerlings, Fahmidan, Tealight Press, Spelt, Dreich, and The Adriatic. He is currently working on his first pamphlet.