Nowadays, I forget to give thanks,
sitting impatiently at the counter
while the heat emanating from
my dinner tempers the cross

hanging from my neck. And father,
he asks his only daughter
to lead us in prayer. Yesterday
he asked his son—the firstborn,

of course—every day picking stones
from a bag of two polished siblings,
myself excommunicated from the lottery,
the second-born son slingshotted

into the face of a giant.
When he looks at me,
I stain glass mosaics
on my forehead, wondering

if he sees godliness or blood,
or an amygdala full of naked boys.
He is quiet like me, and I hate that.
I never learned to defend myself from being

known. I don’t dare ask how much
he sees through the leadlight,
to inquire if my lips are stained
infrared by those of other men,

to know whether our silence
holds a father’s guilt, or a foreboding
acceptance of his queer child.
I haven’t decided which is worse.

I still live here, after all.

I bow my head, eyes open
in both protest and fear,
waiting for those nominal words to escape
my sister’s holy mouth—“Dear Father,”


David Toomer (he/him) is a poet from the metro DC area. He studies chemistry and computer science at Stanford University, where he is a member of the school’s nationally ranked Spoken Word Collective and serves as the vice president of the Stanford Poetry Society. Toomer has participated in various poetry slam competitions and open mics, including the 2019 Hyper Bole and the Northern Virginia Invitational Poetry Slam where he placed first. You can find him on Instagram and Twitter @davidjtoomer.