The Voice on the Radio

J.D. Ho

What we inherited from the past 
must not be permitted to shackle us 
to the future.
In his black top hat, Jimmy Carter sat
in a peanut, bursting out like a hatchling,
ready to sing to me, to relay the news.
The radio was a gift from my mother’s latest lover.
I saw him sometimes from the darkness of my room when
I should have been sleeping. It was companion, my arm
curled around it as I slept. It perched on the tub—I didn’t like 
to be alone where I might drown. Our voices echoed 
on the tile. I sang underwater, glugging my words:
Gobbledygook! I repeated after him. My mother’s voice
snaked under the door. I turned the radio loud to keep her
out. She rattled at the knob. The summer ran dry. A new
lover showed. Cicadas sang like engines in the trees.
We cast this message into the cosmos . . . I wondered where
my father was. Branches of pines needled my feet 
as I ran to my fort in the woods. I climbed my tree.
Of the 200 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, some—
perhaps many—may have inhabited planets.
I lay
watching the sky from the leaves. I called to my
father, come find me. I hugged the radio close. His voice
held fast in the darkness. I fell asleep, dreaming of all
the things he would someday say to me. When I woke, the sky
spun above me, the batteries were dead. Here is our message:
We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours.