If my father is my arbiter, then it’s just as well; I am bound
to follow him in my duty as his daughter. I am no woman, though,
in his image I was made. What does that make me? My dimensions
are as fit as anyone’s. I am healthy. I am whole. I try to love
my father as he deserves to be loved: unconditionally. I fail
as any child would. There are secrets I keep from him, coins
in a dead man’s pocket for the ferryman. He is not a monster.
His age predates him— change bewilders him. Even if I told him I was not
a woman, he would call me one and think he spoke truthfully. The excellent
forgery of my appearance is perhaps my greatest lie. Hips, breasts,
and thighs. There is no bridging the gap, so I make it wider. I say nothing,
choose not to come between my father and the girl he once knew. I have
a father, but I don’t know how to talk to him. He has a child,
he just doesn’t know what to do with it.
Kathryn Bratt-Pfotenhauer is a poet with roots in the D.C metro area and Western Europe. Their work has previously been published or is forthcoming in Cherry Tree, Beloit Poetry Journal, Meridian, Grist, and others. A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, they have received awards from the Ledbury Poetry Festival, Bryn Mawr College, and they were a finalist in the 2021 Fool for Poetry International Chapbook Competition held by the Munster Literature Centre. They are in their first year in Syracuse University’s MFA program, where they write about inheritance and the interior.
The featured image pairs “Lear and Cordelia” by Richard Hatfield (1845) with “‘King Lear’ Act 1, Scene 1” by Edwin Austin Abbey (1898) — images chosen specifically for this piece by our Art Director, Meg Sykes.