I tuck my kids into bed two nights every other weekend, with an occasional weekday somewhere in between. The youngest two pretty much spent the first two years of their sleeping life on my chest & so what I’m trying to say is I'm still learning to live with the trade-offs of becoming the smaller, part-time parent. I don't know that there's a poem in there but I'm pretty sure the poetry lies here: I left both my father & wife. There is so much grief in both estrangements & I’m begging for forgiveness & grace from one that I refuse to extend the other.
I’ve been told marriage is a house
of God but my temple is full of doubts.
What I mean by that
is my father was a chamber
full of empty prayers,
rolled & stuffed to the brim
& my mother was the wind
pulled through the reeds at varying frequencies,
straining against herself.
Have you ever felt the wind lose its air?
Seen a buoy plummet to the ocean floor?
It’s times like these I believe most in the blues.
My son asks me if we can do a sleep over,
and my throat chokes on its own.
My daughters are of different minds.
My oldest still won’t call my place home.
My youngest still holds wonder in everything—
even the empty walls in my apartment.
I belong to a long line of fathers
who’ve disappointed their sons—
their daughters, even more.
My father still thinks he can sing.
He can’t but he tries.
I know better. If I could, I would
sing like a fiddle sliding into a more honest register,
lilting headlong into a truth.
I’ll never make you blue, so much
I’ll actually believe it.
My mother never did
so much as write a love letter
to the man—knowing a blues player,
more than most, can play
two strings at the same time
& make them sound
just as sweet as a Shanghai rooster.
Dujie's family moved to Washington state when he was 5 years old, shortly after arriving to America. He grew up in Yakima, went to college in Walla Walla, and moved to Seattle in 2014 to take a job that provided for his young family. Dujie still lives and works in Seattle with his three kids.