A Study in Architecture and How

by Amy Jarvis

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I don’t write about my father because
no words feel worthy of him. All malleable,

a fantastic failure. I’ll attempt for him
at midnight: Like how I was taught

to try hardest first & collect myself after only if
there’s ash. Like how the cardinals

only come when the world is crystalline. We used
to press our noses to the windows & thunder-chase

from our hearts up. He is always both
traveler & cartographer. Every tendency

I have in pacing comes from him. I am fourteen
& razor-sharp when I ask how much he loves me. My

question is horrible. His answer is always infinite.
Like the way the lake shines at sunset,

an incalescent holiness. Magic before the snap.
Sometimes, I trace lines bigger than my body & imagine

if my wrinkles will unfold across my face, graceful,
the way they did his. An orchestrated softness. A sonic

resound, listening to the way water falls cyclical,
out of & into itself. Like the December sky.

The sharp steel of blades on ice, the soup simmering
impenetrable on the stove, the swelling snores in the night.

All options signify safety. All options a practice in learning.
As I grow older, I find his feathers buried underneath

my own wings. Some of that same red dust, a creation.
We dive underwater & I pull him up oysters, his grin

the only thing comparable to their shine. A pulse,
a lesson in something steady & unshakeable. We

are a family of building cathedrals. Father & daughter
architect. An act of creation, steady & silent. A study

in surviving wartime & bellying-up skyward. The
crack of sun across dawn. Something too like

my own self to objectively excavate. Arms holding me
impervious in that first hospital room & that same strength

holding me in all the rest. A lightning strike, just once,
enough to cement the sky in light.


Amy Jarvis’s “A Study in Architecture and How” appears in Flock 23.

Amy Jarvis majors in creative writing at Susquehanna University, and originally hails from Rhode Island. In her free time, she’s either fighting back against the ways in which her body’s failed her, or inventing new worlds to beat it from. She’s a poet, a lover of light, and a hopeless romantic, although not necessarily in that order. You can find her work at https://ammaaay.wixsite.com/amyjarviswriter.