Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Sunday, June 17, 2012

For My Dead Father

by April Salzano                       

I called you from my pocket this morning. My phone
dialed random contacts, yours among them. As if
I could summon you from the dead to wish
you Merry Christmas. As if
I could tell you now what I never told you
while you were alive. And now,
maybe it’s the holiday lights or the cold
so harsh it hurts like some lost fragment of time,
but I miss you. I didn’t have time to love you
before your kidneys finally failed,
before dialysis stopped working,
before the last breath
slipped from your exhausted lungs
like smoke.

How is it that I managed to
resent your angry hands, your
bad temper, your rattlesnake wit, your sadistic
sense of humor, but never managed to
love behind my anger, to admire beneath my surface? How
is it that I let slide
the times I could have told you, but sat silent
instead, watching you fall asleep in your chair
as I gawked at the pulsing port that allowed
bad blood to be made clean and put back in? It took
hours to drain you, longer for you to recover
each time. You had been tired
for years. You had been trying to tell me something
I was not willing to hear.

There is a part of me that reaches for you
that holds you and strokes the yellow
ash of your skin, that watches the corners
of your eyes wrinkle when
you smile, every time I am hurt,
every time I am kicked
when I am already down. A justice you could never
set right, a cross you felt obligated to bear.
I had in mind a catharsis
 that never materialized at your death.
I mocked you
while I was learning from you.
I resented you for not loving
me enough. I heard you outside and I
didn’t let you in. I am carrying you now,
and you are heavy though whittled
to half your size. I am holding on tight
even though it’s too late. I am
holding and I will not let you go.

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