The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Open the Fist by Elya Braden


This selection, chosen by Managing Editor Krista Cox, is from Open the Fist by Elya Braden, released by Finishing Line Press in 2020. 

In My Father’s Office

He was a smaller thing at home,
trapped on a concrete island
like the noon-dazed lion at the zoo.

The insistent swarm of our voices
pricked him awake. Head shake,
rise and roar: “You idiot!” “Stop crying!
I’ll give you something to cry about!

On special Saturdays, I was invited
to his glass and steel-girded castle—
all elevators, carpets, empty offices,
walls papered with pin-striped secrets.

Daddy’s wide wood desk too polished
to touch, crisp folders set at right angles.
His leather chair on rollers: a throne for the king
of everything. His cup of pencils sharp as arrows,

hungry for blood. Lined up next to them,
the frozen smiles of our school pictures. This
is how he loved us: tidy, adoring, silent.


Elya Braden is the author of Open The Fist, a chapbook released in 2020, and The Sight of Invisible Longing, a chapbook to be published in 2023, both by Finishing Line Press. She is a writer and mixed-media artist living in Ventura County, CA, and is Assistant Editor of Gyroscope Review. Her work has been published in Calyx, Prometheus Dreaming, Rattle Poets Respond, Sheila-Na-Gig Online, The Coachella Review and elsewhere. Her poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and have received several Best of the Net nominations.

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