Wrestling with Genetics
The sports gene I get from my dead father. He returns to me now as a scent. Water-logged leaves. He’s the tetherball attached to my pole, the flying trapeze of my soul. He runs a bar tab, then turns to me and says let’s hit the road, son. And when I argue with him about the keys, he says that’s a bunch of horseshit. But then I bluff. I can see his ailing pickled heart sitting in a laboratory glass jar on a top shelf too high to reach. I wrestle him to the ground, grab the keys, load Dad into the back seat. And for once, just this time, he won’t barrel down a back road at one hundred miles an hour, straight into the side of a quarrelsome train.
KF: Robert, are any aspects of this flash drawn from life either directly or indirectly?
RV: The title is from my life, I grapple with what my genetics are whenever I catch a cold, slip a disc, or can’t remember what streets we lived on. And the alcohol is somewhat drawn directly from my dad, he could drink (and it’s in the genes). He also had a foul mouth, only with the guys, loved words like “horseshit.” The laboratory glass jar might be a nod to his career in medicine? I never wrestled my Dad to the ground, unless I’ve blocked that memory. We did have some physical battles, though, so I may have drawn from that. And the train at the end I recalled from an incident during high school- my younger sister’s boyfriend was killed instantly when the car he was in hit a moving train.