Poem: Elegy IV (Tallis)

I don’t tell Dad that you never finished cross-stitching
the tallis piece because you were punishing him.
You wouldn’t tell him, so why should I? I finished
the curtains you were planning though I didn’t line them,
I passed on the unfinished quilts to your quilting friend,
but no way I’m going to cross-stitch, and besides,
that was what, four, five crafts ago? After stained glass
and decoupage, but before basket weaving, toll painting,
knitting, crochet and quilting. That’s the problem
with this family — we’re just no good at punishing
each other — or rather, no one can ever get results.
Everyone wants everyone else to be different,
but we can’t make it happen. When you told me that
you were putting this off out of anger, I asked if Dad knew
you were punishing him, and you said, No,
he just thinks I’m lazy. And I said, How’s
that working out for you, and you said, Just fine.

Jason Schneiderman is the author of  “Primary Source,”  “Striking Surface” and “Sublimation Point.” He edited the anthology “Queer: A Reader for Writers” and teaches at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY.  “Elegy IV (Tallis)” appeared in “Striking Surface,” Ashland Poetry Press (2010).