• MJ Fievre

I Will Reparent Myself

I’ll write about the papa I always wanted:

He sits on a balcony, serious & dignified,

wearing sandals with interlocking straps

of light & dark leather. He leans on the balustrade, watches the street,


& the man who walks with a limp,


& the buses that push & pull


at their brakes & turn street corners,

watches the lines of laundry, strung

between gray walls, stained by azaleas,

watches me ride the neighbor’s bicycle.

As he worries about darting cars & bumps in the sidewalk, the late

evening sun settles upon his face,

dust particles


float in the sweltering air.

I’ll long for him, my noisy, careless father,

his heavy step, his deep voice filling up

the rooms, his laugh a steady vibration

against the drums inside my ears. His face

was less angled when he laughed —soft as sunrise—& his jaw

less strong, less square.

I’ll write about a papa who helped me


with complicated homework,


when the numbers in the math book

wouldn’t hold still—numbers like swarming

gnats that buzz about my head. As I completed the assignments, the world

had an ethereal stillness, a colorful tranquility.

With a knife, my papa broke a melon,

revealing its pink center, its myriad of seeds.

He reached for a pink slice, brought it


to his mouth, & sank his teeth into it.


Pink juice ran out, gathered & quivered


on his chin. Or he peeled an orange, lost

himself in the color & segments & sparkle

of the pulp. He offered me a piece of fruit

—feeding is a kind of love.

If you do it right,


it won’t be clear who’s filling whom.

When my face drains of color,


& there’s something starved about it


—like some small, feral animal, something

hunted—I’ll write about father-daughter


car rides around Port-au-Prince, windows

down, dashboard peeling in sunlight,

seatbelts frayed like catfish whiskers.

Sometimes we remain quiet, listening to


the thread of the tires run along


the asphalt, how they collect pebbles


& drop them back. He’ll clasp


my hand, Papa; squeeze it, feeling


the warmth inside, the pulsing heat of blood.

In these stories, he’ll sometimes take me


to the mountains, turn up the music in the car,

until it is a giant bass roar & I can’t hear


anything else, not even my own mind. The sky


is blue, the mountains are green, & sheep


graze in the fields. The cherries are dark


& shine on the treetops. We climb higher
& higher,

the road twisting & turning


& cars flying by in a manner both dangerous


& natural. On our way back,


the engine growls as the sun recedes, shady patches

deepen with shadows. I am happy


for this moment—my father breathing the same air

I breathe, our hearts beating to the same rhythm.

When I am lost in time, unhinged,


when parts of me trail off, disconnected,


I’ll become him,


for myself,


this tender father


—without the kind of loneliness


that settles in my chest, a small, hard knot

—without the kind of sorrow


that tries to take me out of myself.


I’ll become him in those epic days of quarter

life, finding himself, verging on success,


on failure, his own father inside him.


& I’ll become him, this father


whose mouth is not dirty with rage,


but rather honeyed with affection.


Both father & daughter, I’ll tuck myself


in the warmth of my own bed,


where I’ll read the Brothers Grimm,


& verses from King James Bible.

I’ll whisper, I love you—to myself, on his behalf.


I’ll whisper, I love you—to my noisy, careless father,

his heavy step, his deep voice filling up


the rooms, his laugh a steady vibration


against the drums inside my ears. His face


is less angled when he laughs—soft as sunrise


—& his jaw less strong, less square.


***

(Cover art for this poem by @kgalee_art)


An excerpt from Happy, Okay?: Poems about Anxiety, Depression, Hope, and Survival



Confront Depression, Anxiety, Grief, and Loss through Poetry


Are the usual depression books helping you find a path to healing? No? Try this poetry collection especially for those dealing with mental illness and for people closest to them.


Create hope for the future. Paloma is faking it. On the outside, she’s A-Okay. She’s electrified at work, there is a cadence in her step as she walks her dog, she posts memes on Facebook, and she keeps up with most relationships. Looks can be deceiving, however. Inside, Paloma is just going through the motions, and she feels like things are spiraling out of control. But when things are at their darkest, dawn arrives with clarity and focus, and with it, healing. Paloma learns to value small glimmering moments of joy rather than searching for constant happiness, thus building hope for her future.

A manifesto for life. Happy, Okay?: Poems about Anxiety, Depression, Hope, and Survival is not simply a narrative spun in verse by a masterful poet. It is an invitation to readers to shake off the stigma and silence of mental illness and find strength in the only voice that matters: your own. It can be an electric roadmap to healing and a manifesto for wholeness.

In this inspiring and heartwarming book, you will:

  • Understand how to make happiness a decision, even when you don’t feel it in your bones

  • Find out how to exercise patience and self-acceptance

  • Attract hope and purpose back into your life


Fans of Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur, The Witch Doesn’t Burn in this One by Amanda Lovelace, Depression & Other Magic Tricks by Sabrina Benaim, Our Numbered Days by Neil Hilborn, or Nothing is Okay by Rachel Wiley will love Happy, Okay? by M.J. Fievre.

© 2019 by MJ Fievre