Goddfrey Hammit

Performance Review

My father, a believer that people 
could be born with bad habits–
that all that thumb-sucking and whimpering
could, if unchecked early on, turn 

into an adult who with an 
ever-puckered thumbprint–
would sit us down yearly on January 1st 
and, one by one, ask us what our 

New Year’s resolutions were.
My brothers and I sat at the 
kitchen table my father
saw as his domestic boardroom,

and we the three employees of 
his company who might at any moment 
be let go in the capacity of being his sons, 
him turning to us and saying, 

“Sorry, it just isn’t working out.”
If cuts had to be made, I knew
I was the most likely to go–
the oldest but least qualified 

for the job of being a son;
and so, sat at his right-hand side, 
I made my yearly resolutions to show
that it wasn’t that I wasn’t willing 

to learn and improve for
the sake of the company:
I’d practice basketball each day, 
I’d attend the Boy Scouts more regularly,

though I knew, really, it wasn’t a matter
of what I was expected to gain, 
but what I was expected to lose, 
like my mother, who resolved each year

that she would lose five pounds.
Better than resolving to join another 
little league team, I should instead resolve 
to lose my fear of other boys,

to lose the need for attention that made me
traipse around the house dressed up in
old tweedy skirts that 
I had found in my grandmother’s storage,

and I should stop offering to paint 
my aunts’ nails at family gatherings–
though they would be disappointed and,
if they were, I thought, 

they would have to take it up with my father,
who didn’t seem aware that childhood, 
on its own terms,
was already full of unresolvables, 

and that I was already resolving, 
all year long, 
all through childhood,
to change and to shake bad habits loose

in the private hope that, 
at next year’s performance review, 
my father might turn to me
on his right-hand side–

just after my mother had said, yet again, 
that she planned to lose five pounds–
and say, “Resolution? What’s to resolve?
Your performance, this year, has met expectations.”

© Goddfrey Hammit

Goddfrey Hammit was born and raised in Utah, and lives in Utah still, in a small town outside of Salt Lake City. Hammit is the author of the novel Nimrod, UT. Website: goddfreyhammit.com

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