Katie Moulton

Getting in at the Dead Dad Club

There will be a password. It’s the pet name
he stopped calling you
the second time you emptied
your little yellow bucket over the lip

of the tub. You were two. You looked him
straight in the eye. You did it
anyway. In the first dark vestibule
they will stamp your soft underside

of wrist, and it will be the shape of his
red right palm, the angry imprint
he left on your skin after lifting
you from the bath, laying you out on his long knee

and later how he wept and vowed to never mark you again.
Unlatch the rope yourself, brush the velvet
backwards. In the long hall there is only noise,
the PA buzzing brown haze, and below

that, the two-line lullabye he made up
and never wrote down. When the room opens
there will be the bar, recently burned,
and the stained vinyl booths, lamps in amber,

and everybody already in their places. Next
table over, men teethe swollen knuckles,
overpour their pitchers, listen hard
to the lyrics and believe that one person can speak

and another can make shapes with their hands
and make it mean something like escape,
from the inside out. See them try
to hold thumb and middle finger together

as though the joints never hurt. There, see
the dudes in lensless frames professing:
Everyone’s dad is dead, and everyone has had to kill them.
Sure, those folks got in with fakes, but they’re in.

Katie Moulton’s recent work appears in Quarterly West, Post Road, and Devil’s Lake, which awarded her the 2013 Driftless Prize in Fiction. Previously a music critic in St. Louis, she now lives in Bloomington where she edits the Indiana Review and deejays for independent community radio.