Tuesday, July 31, 2018

His Simple and Wise Voice

Their dad moved to Montana
the weekend before
Father’s Day.

The two teenagers
acted like it was no big deal
but I knew the truth.

My Little Blonde Talking Monkey
reacted with her expected
shower of tears
and guilty anxiety.

She tells me
“Dad deserves to be happy too”
as I rock her crying heaving

I suggested they each
pick out a Father’s Day
card for him
so he wouldn’t be forgotten
in Montana

(the reason he left:
“there was
nothing for him
in California”

uncomfortably long pause

“except you kids”).

The teenagers
were noncommittal
as they selected their
cards and then went about
dreaming of cell phones
and new clothes.

Sarah couldn’t decide
on a card so
I helped her
read the sentiments:

“Dad, you’ve helped me 
in so many ways…”

"I’ll never be able to thank you
for all that you’ve given me…”

each card flowing
with sentiment so undeserved

“Dad, you’re my best friend.”

I could tell Sarah
was getting bored by the search
but I wasn’t.

I was getting angry.

As I read each card
I kept thinking
Why isn’t my Pop here?

He deserves to be here
and I want to thank him
and I want to hear his laughter again
his simple and wise voice,

but each card tugged
and sometimes ripped
at my heart,

the injustice of it all
was taunting me:

here I am
eating my heart out
picking out Father’s Day cards
for an emotionally deadbeat dad
and I’ll have to
pay for the card too.

Why am I doing this?

Then I heard his voice:
“because you know
it’s the right thing to do, mijo.

That’s what I’d do.”

He was right.

So we left Target
and went home
and mailed off the cards.

Thanks, Pop,
I sure do miss your voice.

[Posted for Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, written in 2007.  Legally, the children in this story were my stepchildren.  Emotionally, they're my children.]

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Acting In (For Sarah)

She struggles,
a naked, electric nerve
looking for reassurance,
calming succor
that may never come.

Some days
she is braver
and walks onto
the battlefield of
self-hating bullets
and grenades
whizzing by,
close enough to destroy,
but luckily,
not quite yet.

When they're younger,
we discipline children
into reigning in
their acting out.

When they’re older,
with access to weapons,
manipulative hustlers and pimps,
I worry about her
acting in –
cutting and suicide –
and beg her to reach out.

On the plus,
she did not renew
the domain name
and website
where she chronicled
her erstwhile journey
to self-destruction.

Whatever tipped that
in her favor,

whether it was
her beloved nephew Oliver,

or the promise of
things unbidden and unseen,

or she just
forgot about it,


[For Real Toads  - Post and Read!]