by Yash Seyedbagheri

I see rage in every person’s pause and chilling coldness in distant stares.

They’re just distracted, tired, they assure me. Mama, sister Nan, everyone. They say I’m a creative, lovable soul. They promise.

But I can’t help see Dad’s mustache, thousands of miles away, bristling, proclaiming transgressions. Walk straight, tuck your shirt in, don’t pause, just be confident, achieve. I tiptoed around him, but still the words leaped out in the hallway, and bit me on the way to bed.

I try to tell myself they’re not him. They love me.

But I still look in shadows. Something always hides.

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