When my father comes to my bed and sits at the edge and tucks me in and hugs me with all his weight and all his heart, I feel his cold.

His head on my chest with closed eyes. His mouth saying what a father’s should.              

But what I hear is the cold in his heart freezing over in a nightly winter. In the barks of search dogs searching snowy woods. In search parties searching with crossing flashlights under evening snowfall. In the unrelenting yell of his name; of his son’s after. In the single word “found” and the beating pulse of his every step to the lake. To the cracked hole. To my brother’s frozen face staring up through ice in forever closed eyes.

My father opens his. I am not who he needs me to be.

Robert Warf
Robert Warf

Robert Warf is from Portsmouth, Virginia. He has work in Post Road, X-R-A-Y, HAD, and Witch Craft. You can find him at