Megan Nichols

[There was the way his mother]
April 24, 2024 Nichols Megan

[There was the way his mother]


There was the way his mother called him baby-faced that made me defensive. His father would
tease his lacking jaw. He’d say a jaw actually runs the length of a man’s body, from face to
shoulders, to torso, to fists, to feet. A jawless man could not kiss nor carry nor hit nor kick, just
roll and rest like the jawless babies he would never make. Light can change a face, so when the
shadow of this tease was cast, a sharpness rose but his father would laugh and pat the angles out
of his son. I tried to learn this touch too, this patting of the back that suggested fury could be
rocked down. It goes like this: You get them between the shoulder blades, firmly, bravely, like
knocking a grape out of a choking infant and with just as much urgency. I never saw what his
parents said they saw. No baby in his features; no softness to settle, even if laid as long as
wanted right against one’s chest.

Megan Nichols is the author of the chapbook Animal Unfit (Belle Point Press, 2023). Her poems have appeared in Iron Horse Literary Review, The Threepenny Review, Frontier Poetry and elsewhere.