The Eyes Have It

I could never look my dad in the eye when he was angry. We would sit at the kitchen table, or he would perch on the side of my bed, and I would stare at his mouth. I would watch the words form and push and escape. His mouth was bordered by a well-trimmed bread, speckled with black and grey hairs, occasionally an errant beard hair would be poking out askew and I would obsess over it, willing it to settle back into place, thinking if I could make his beard settle, perhaps his anger would also.

I would examine his teeth as he spoke. His upper incisors ended in points just lower than the other teeth, they were slightly yellow and looked threatening, as if the growl in Dad's voice was not there until the frustrated words reverberated across these canine, ancient fangs. His lower teeth were jumbled, some stood solider straight and others were  haphazard and reminded me of pieces of cuttlefish, scavenged from the beach at Somers, which I would collect and jam into the sand to form a rough wall around my sand fortress. Occasionally spittle would form on the tips of these jagged choppers, reminding me a tidal wave of fierce words was cresting them to crash into me and destroy my creation.

I always looked at Dad’s mouth. I couldn’t look at his eyes. There was never anger in Dad's eyes – there was sadness, disappointment and fear but never anger. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like seeing the truth behind Dad’s words, that he cared about me, he worried about me, or worse that he was disappointed in me.

Staring at his mouth I could pretend a faceless angry dog was snarling at me, snapping from a behind a fence of my own making. The fence kept me safe from the unseen but certainly vicious beast lurking behind, but his eyes, if I saw Dad’s eyes I couldn’t hide and I couldn’t pretend. Looking Dad in the eye was the only real punishment I ever needed...

Hear from Wil's dad first hand in his remarkable podcast interview follow the link here >

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