Instead

by | Feb 14, 2023 | Issue Thirty-One, Poetry

This was my first Father’s Day 
Without my Father.

As the son of a workaholic, I don’t know if working on this expired holiday honored him or distanced myself from him.

Every dad entering with his kids to buy them something... bittersweet like aspartame, a sugar analog, close enough but not the same. Never the same.
Never the same again.

I didn’t have my father’s guidance. Instead, I became a man’s Daddy.
I multitasked in a physical language.
I guided my fingers and escaped; the man was the destination.
I laid on a towel & overshot the landing.
I coped in the most responsibly irresponsible fashion.
I wore a mask until I didn’t.

I didn’t have my father’s choice. Instead, I coparented pubic lice.
I bought shampoo to kill the family, to fingernail-separate the ties that bind.

I didn’t have my father’s peace. Instead, a cheap inheritance.
My father gave my mom everything, but I gained all the sleep my dad lost.

I didn’t have my father’s closure
Instead depression Instead revisitation
Instead nostalgia in a glass house
Instead dad mines turning thoughts to trauma craters
Instead love in a cul-de-sac Love in a leaking bottle
AbrokentreadmillAscreechingstationarybike

I didn’t have my father’s patience.
Instead, last straws & store closes.
A wisp of smoke
A breath of release
I made it through,
Just by a hair.

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