“Be a Man” by Patrick Fox

Winner of the William and Ivy Saylor Prize 2014

“Stand a little taller, boy.

You’re gonna have to

be a man some day.”

He said it with such

resolution that I could

not even ask what that

was supposed to mean

to a kid by the age of

sixteen. I just thought

I would some how know

but to this day I can’t

tuck fingers to palm and

strike out the sound of

cracking bones and leave

bruises or love the way

doors close with such

resounding conclusion.

The way he showed my mother

with color in her cheeks

that would stain wine and

fear at heart that turned

sheets into stifled cries,

hell into being too

Exhausted by grief and

pain to desire heaven.

To this day, I have never

wanted anyone to know

what it means to be a man.

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