I never thought I’d still be breathing at 45,
painted skulls on tiny coffins
to distract my broken mind.
But now I’ve tasted worth
and felt confidence creeping up my spine.
I know you had a lot of problems,
always told me you were trying.
And I have felt deep purple blood
flow from your heart into my veins
and I have known the ones you’ve cared for,
watched you take on all their pain.
And I have saved all of your cards,
the ones you simply signed “love, Dad,”
but all those words were not from you
they poured from Hallmark interns’ hands.
They say you’ve only got one father,
best forgive while he’s alive.
But I don’t think you know I’m angry
and if you do, you don’t know why.
I’ve explained, been patient, got angry,
shouted, got up and paced.
I tried to learn safe ways to love you
but it turned into a chase.
And I’m getting to the age where someday
I’ll be a mother and I’m terrified
that I’ll define love by how I suffered.
Hold my child’s hand and shudder
think of broken dishes clutter,
fluttered heart when I hear “Cutter,”
I will never know my brother.
Crossing armed borders every Christmas,
is this CD stuck on a loop
or am I having future visions,
can I still be my new self here,
freshly fired girl of clay,
or will their haunted silence crack me,
rip my stitches into fray.
I feel ashamed for leaving,
resent this selfish travelogue.
Each call ignored feels like
I’m putting down an injured dog.
But my ribcage is police state,
barbed wire wraps each rib
and though I want to tear them down,
I need them up to be your kid.
I’ve started sewing all the tears,
putting the broken shards in place,
but to trust it in my bones,
I need to learn that love is safe.
And though you now let your rage simmer,
turned the burner down to low,
my darkness brought to light your selfishness
in ways I can’t unknow.
I know you’ve gone through all your changes,
you’re much better for the scars.
But it took me and mom leaving
for you to notice we were gone.
And I am sorry that you see now,
almost better if you’re blind,
because I’m taking back that little girl
and leaving you behind.