by Jo Christian
Extreme bouts of Growing Pains my Father Tends to with Absorbine
Growing pains prodded my legs, restless as a horse’s,
it’s skin shuddering under flies, always the urge to run
rising. I inched closer to the bedside
only waking to the thud of bone on wood.
And this is how my father found me, crying out.
Each time, he’d scoop my body in his arms
careful, as if porcelain, pitiful and about to bust.
He’d rock me, moving downstairs, laying me
on the couch, as I clutched my still, stiff legs.
Wiping my eyes with his tank top, he’d
break open a new bottle of herbal gel
what could heal the aches of horses
and began warming it, wringing his hands.
Then, the release from night’s pinching,
where he applied the cooling gel, first to calves
then patting thighs, hard to stop the spasms
unknotting the masses thick as his callouses.
Hands like hooves, scratching and scuffing my skin.
And through the throbbing, the untying of my legs,
he never needed to speak; his blue eyes
two ponds of water without wakes, pools of memory
I would never learn. And relaxed, mind folding
into dreams, heavy as anesthesia
while my father, coddled me, carrying me back
up the steps, placing me into bed, where my itching
muscles might flare again. But he didn’t mind
didn’t tire from my night time troubles.
He only wished my body would not wrestle itself
working away his worry:
night shift nurse, guard, father.
Jo Christian is a poet from East Tennessee and is currently pursuing his MFA at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. They also hold a MA with a focus in Creative Writing from the University of Louisville and a BA in English from Campbellsville University. Their work has been featured in Kentucky Monthly, The Poetry Derby, Into the Void, and others.
Chinese artist Wowser Ng is based in London where he graduated with an MA from University of the Arts London. Brightly-colored digital paintings provide new possibilities for Asia queer depiction in abstract and figurative works. Ng challenges pop culture by appropriating fashion products to form visual narratives and uses stylized abstract images in his research.