A Poem by William Fargason

William Fargason

William Fargason

William Fargason is the author of Velvet (Northwestern University Press, 2024) and Love Song to the Demon-Possessed Pigs of Gadara (University of Iowa Press, 2020), winner of the 2019 Iowa Poetry Prize and the 2020 Florida Book Award in Poetry (Gold Medal). His poetry has appeared in Ploughshares, The Threepenny Review, Prairie Schooner, New England Review, The Cincinnati Review, Narrative, and elsewhere. He has an MFA in poetry from the University of Maryland and a PhD in poetry from Florida State University. He lives with himself in College Park, Maryland.

When My Father Crushed His Hand

in the wood splitter I was six states away
his glove got caught in the chain track and pulled

his hand in and the machine didn’t know the difference
between wood and flesh it pulled his hand 

in like he would pull his belt off the leather
slapping each loop of his jeans before he’d hit me

over and over and even at twelve I dreamed
something like this would happen to him 

but when it finally did twenty years later it was
too late his friend was with him a family friend 

who was at the hospital when I was born
he took a saw and cut the glove to free 

my father’s hand at the hospital later my mother
sat in the waiting room she called me and told me

two of his fingers were crushed by the machine
she said the terrible machine she couldn’t look

when it happened I know what it’s like to watch
an animal in a trap and not want to set it free