Magazine · Poetry

Doors by Jesse Parent

My daughter tells me she wants to date

and I shrug.

She tells me the name of her girlfriend

and I shrug again.

She tells me I have to be careful

because her girlfriend’s parents don’t know she’s gay.

And I pause.


My daughter tells me her parents are religious

and I want to tell her “so am I” and “that shouldn’t matter”

But I can’t deny that while religion doesn’t build the closet door

it does tend to supply the lumber.

To plane it straight.

After all, Jesus was a carpenter’s son

and knows the many uses of wood.

How to hang plumb.


And here I reach the point of parental dilemma

I am at the crossroad where

I need to be honest with this girl’s parents

and where she needs to survive.

My daughter praying to crossed timber

on an atheist’s rosary that the door

will open and her girlfriend will be

where she last saw her,

alive and well hidden under a heap of clothes

that her parents bought for her.


I live a thousand lifetimes in this decade of Hail Marys

where my daughter does not go to prom

because her girlfriend has to go with a boy

where she is called an “aunt” or “special friend”

where she is pulled inside the door of someone else’s closet.

Applies another coat of varnish and lacquer

until she blurs a little more every day.


And when I meet the parents,

I smile like a stack of toothpicks,

choose her survival over truth,

shake their hands and feel for splinters and callouses.

But I say a silent prayer, a vow,

to put every door in my own home into a wood chipper

until my daughter feels safe

until she falls in love with the smell of sawdust.



Jesse Parent placed 2nd at both the 2010 and 2011 Individual World Poetry Slams and has served on the executive council for Poetry Slam, Inc. His poetry has been featured on Huffington Post, UpWorthy,, and In his personal life, he has a very tolerant wife and three adorable kids. You can find out more about him at

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