1968

1968

I should have paid attention,

        asked questions,

                listened to life stories

But what 15 year-old would do that?

Fifteen was too young to know that

Life was hiding a dagger behind me.

 

So when life tapped my shoulder and

I looked that way

      I never expected

the stabbing pain in my other side.

 

Daddy was dead and I was

a thousand miles away, melting in the

misery of a Chicago summer.

 

Swift landslide of memories.

A long road trip to California.

He teaches me the rules of the road.

His strong baritone voice sings along

to the lone country western radio station,

“The yellow rose of Texas is the only girl for me”.

Laughter and chicken-fried steak.

A lesson in scrambling eggs,

Wait, where did that happen?

Memories swirl into a vortex I need to separate.

They’re all I have

There should be more.

 

My father is dead.

With no clue, no notice, no chance to say goodbye.

Hell, no chance to say hello,

To ask those questions

To memorize his voice

To listen to his stories

To learn who he was.

No, it’s unthinkable. I won’t think it. I can’t.

 

But I can’t stop thinking about what never was.

Memories I never had evaporate like fog, leaving me chilled.

 

Somehow, days pass.

Somehow, a funeral happens.

Somehow, Mother and I sit

at the dining room table in silence

A thousand shared questions

Rise in the air along with her cigarette smoke

But the only one that matters is

The one that can’t be answered.

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