Confessional Poem, Age Seven: Poetry by D. Gilson

Confessional Poem, Age Seven

Uncle Dennis is the entire state of Texas,
expanse of great prairie and oil-rigged

skyscrapers all contained in the rotunda
of his five-foot-eight frame.

But when my parents bring him home
from Houston, it is 1990. My uncle

does not wear his Stetson,
does not hug me into the cowboy

flank of his new-fangled body.
Uncle Dennis is skinny, is not

Uncle Dennis until I walk beside
his wheelchair, down

the long, bleached hallway
of the nursing home, when he turns

to me, says, Howdy, cowpoke.
Months pass. On the playground

that is being seven years old,
I kiss my best friend Eric Schmitt

behind the dugout. He shoves me
into the dirt and runs away

as my uncle’s radio moans,
If you wanna know, if he loves you so,

it’s in his kiss. That’s where it is.
But I am a child, one who never

learns quick. That night we visit
Uncle Dennis. When Mother whispers

into my ear, Give your uncle a kiss
on the cheek
, the KS lesion flowers

above the neckline of his pale blue
hospital gown, a blossom that creeps

like ivy across the distance
of starched sheets between us,

into the garden, fertile, that is
my boy body, and I refuse him.

—D. Gilson


D. Gilson is the author of Crush (Punctum Books, 2014), with Will Stockton; Brit Lit (Sibling Rivalry, 2013); and Catch & Release (2012), winner of the Robin Becker Prize from Seven Kitchens Press. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry, The Indiana Review, and The Rumpus. Find D. at