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"Creatures Unseen" by Angela Townsend

An incomplete log of children who I have not seen:

  1. The Sasquatch. His body type is indistinguishable from that of my father. They share teardrop eyes and a sweet tooth for hyperbole. Observers note their gait. They give the impression of always stepping over something. They are described as lone wolves, which is not incorrect yet not fully understood. They would spare this world their weeping. They cannot understate the case, so they burn their poems. Their hair grows longer every time they glimpse the divine or grieve.

  2. My father after 1999. He has been changed. He was in Albuquerque, and I was in New York. Sparrows held security councils on his windowsill. He was dressed as an old man in buffalo plaid. He sounded like Johnny Cash and Billy Graham. He wrote me letters in colored pencil. I returned them. He let them write “cardiac event,” which is not incorrect but incomplete. He closed his eyes on the carpet and opened them in a horn section where he plays first trumpet. He is an assistant to the department of Setting the Lonely in Families. He has been changed.

  3. The Oldest Child. Eyes have seen Him. Observers note His spoor. I do not know if His hair is long. He was born while already present. He made walruses and all the good decisions. He is the Eye. I am visible. He does not travel without packing my teardrops in His bottle. He shakes them together with my father’s like a chemist. His backpack is enormous. I fall asleep on His shoulders and wake up wild to write. 

  4. A “bad person.” His existence is the only tenet on which our species agrees. He is an article of faith. He is accepted without evidence. I do not believe in him, even though I have seen him. He has unhappy eyes. He has my fingers. He traffics in the terrible. He lies to his mother and steals loaves and virtue. He writes vicious letters to the Oldest Child and sprinkles them with anthrax. He breaks the world. It was already broken. He is more than his actions and less important than this morning’s bread. It was decided that he should be here. It was a good decision. He tries to hide behind his hair. He is not flammable, which disappoints his siblings. 

  5. Myself. I am informed that I have been sighted. I have my father’s eyes, the color of a pond that has not rippled since summer. I have too many pencils and the ego to work them to the nubs. I cannot erase my tracks. My feet are large. Someone provides evidence that I was curled like a kitten in the backpack at the time of the crime. The case is dismissed. I let them write “innocent,” which is not correct but complete. Not even my bangs are singed.

Angela Townsend (she/her) is the Development Director at Tabby’s Place: a Cat Sanctuary. She graduated from Princeton Seminary and Vassar College. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Arts & Letters, Chautauqua, Paris Lit Up, The Penn Review, The Razor, and The Westchester Review, among others. She is a Best Spiritual Literature nominee. Angie has lived with Type 1 diabetes for 33 years, laughs with her poet mother every morning, and loves life affectionately. She lives just outside Philadelphia with two merry cats.


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