after a line from Robert Browning
In the mornings before school, my father used to brush my hair, put some product in— to make you look good, and my soft smile would arc up. My father’s face grew rouge with enduring pride. Years have passed and I have forgotten the smell, knowing full well the link between memory and scent. A fence, each piece of metal fusing another, instead of a barrier, becoming enclosure. When I am in my childhood home, I sometimes stand in front of that mirror to see if I can see that soft swelling smile, the one I had before commands were given— then all smiles stopped together.
Stephen Furlong received his M.A. in Professional Writing from Southeast Missouri State University. He is the author of the chapbook What Loss Taught Me, which was published by Nostrovia! Press in Fall 2018. His poems, interviews, and book reviews have appeared in Yes Poetry, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and Pine Hills Review, among others. He currently serves as a Staff Reviewer for LitStyle, a subset of the literary journal Five:2:One. He can be found on Twitter @StephenJFurlong.