Filing Joint Taxes Is Another Way of Saying I Love You
The air outside the blinds is dark. No taxi lights over
this house, this stress. My parents are here this Easter
and we have filed three times for a tax extension. The dead-
line is upon us. Our tones sharpen, glances tense.
You don’t understand why we’ve waited so long.
I don’t understand my empty pocketbook. Always saving
and saving and for what? Uncle Sam shuts his eyes and ears
and nose. He won’t look at our broken. He opens
his mouth to swallow what we owe. My parents are not
your typical in-laws, but still they expect the Resurrection
feast we have promised, the one for which they hunted
flights and ensnared brand-new luggage, waited for hours
at an overcrowded terminal in some big city airport
with some big city name. The intercom-crescendo funneled
migraines into my mother’s ears. My father ran
out of snacks and worried down his blood sugar. But the oven
remains quiet because Mozilla Firefox cannot load TurboTax
and not a single Q&A page can help us now. We’re late
and have therefore accidentally thwarted the IRS. Will we celebrate
our first anniversary in federal prison, forgotten behind forgetfulness
and deceit? I remember when we met, how I loved you before
we’d exchanged middle names. Your parents were Catholic
hippies and I thought that was cool because I, like every other
young man, had a chip on my shoulder and every father that wasn’t mine
was better. August in Ohio brought golden trees in an unfamiliar
neighborhood, which we circled while speaking of the afterlife.
I threw sly scripture at you, you deflecting with an amused grace.
You refused to believe in Hell. I wouldn’t say I think I’m damned,
but I do wonder where I’m going. If any of my missteps
have been large enough to fall down a golden ladder or miss
the pearly-gated exit. I’ve missed many exits in this life, flown east
instead of west and still expected the setting sun. We bought pork
this Easter even though we’re vegetarians. Sometimes I don’t know
why I do the things I do. I don’t know why I touch the stove un-
potholdered or drop my keys at the front door or snap
at the Starbucks barista when he mispronounces my name.
It’s not his fault I’m inaccessible. My eyes are too far away, my toes
point inward and rub against each other like hogs at the humid
trough. I want to slough off my skin like a snake and not even be reborn, just
break and eat snails and not pay my taxes. I don’t have silver or gold. I don’t
have a bribe. I have a wife who is perfect and a brain which is not.
A brain that is sometimes the fire, sometimes the fighter.
I lose lighters and buy hundreds of matchboxes at a time
in penance. I’m always lighting up something but never the right
Christmas tree. But anyway, now, silhouetted against the velvet black,
you’re here and I’m here and our taxes will apparently always
be due. My pinky finger grazes your wedding ring and I remember
the vows we exchange daily, not at the altar, but the kind you hum
when you trim my beard and how I’m never late to pick you up,
when I let the car stall and blossom beautiful gas patterns on the pavement.
from acorn to oak, or, after surviving the unsurvivable, i become a man
where once i rolled tight like a snail but was broken
into, i now stand tall like a firmament. a beastly
jaw had wrapped around my dry coating. it licked the cupule
until, unwillingly, i opened. my pericarp sat very, very
still while my insides were destroyed. intentional as a man
prying apart a buttered lobster. afterward all that remained
a rattle. my ruination took root in a damp
red soil. i waited & fractured, brown molecules spreading
thin & spreading anything but rumor. i waited
years. i waited the dark. & then, somehow, impossibly, i
sprang, knotted-veined with sap sticking to bark like a compass to mercury
magnet. i ordered refills at the pharmacy for vials of thick
gold oil, signed waiver upon waiver excusing arborists from culpability.
my tenderest parts grew outward. i sprang like a pacifist
soldier, an illiterate professor. that is to say: i sprang without reason.
but my branches shone golden in the haze, a triumph
painted against dawn & dusk leaves. branches, leaves,
home. i erect my own shade. i please
myself in the sun. i’ve grown where i once was shredded,
harboring my shell under a cool light.
Remi Recchia, PhD, is a trans poet and essayist from Kalamazoo, Michigan. He is a book editor and also works as a technical editor. A five-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Remi’s work has appeared in World Literature Today, Best New Poets 2021, and Juked, among others. Books and chapbooks include Quicksand/Stargazing (Cooper Dillon Books, 2021); Sober (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2022); From Gold, Ghosts: Alchemy Erasures (Gasher Press, 2023); and Transmasculine Poetics: Filling the Gap in Literature & the Silences Around Us (Sundress Publications, forthcoming). Remi has been a Tin House Scholar and Thomas Lux Scholar. He holds an MFA in poetry from Bowling Green State University.