Despite the years of hunger,
I am healthy and streetwise;
Ready to resist your born-again preaching, father.
Your involvement in my life might’ve precluded a happy ending,
but for my determination to have it otherwise.
While you romanced shapely glass bottles and their contents,
I clung to a tattered blanket at Momma’s side
because responsibility escaped your vocabulary,
while paucity pinned itself to ours.
In your artificial states of bliss,
what place was there for Jenny and me?
Did you ever wake up feeling terribly empty,
wishing to be filled up by us kids?
Your picture never disappeared from Momma’s beside table —
a black and white rectangle preserving some day you held me —
so your image clung to our reality,
and more so, Momma’s heart.
She always expected your return,
keeping your mothballed clothes near hers,
but I long stopped wondering,
and Jenny stopped asking where you were;
Now, here you are, proving Mama prescient.
If you’d come a little sooner,
she wouldn’t have died clutching that oft-mended blanket,
as memento of an mythical marriage.
Surely she would’ve preferred your sturdy body.
I am curious to know where you’ve been,
but my notions of a father were abridged post puberty,
as every Father’s Day passed, without reprieve.
Accepted as penance for wrongs committed in a former life,
your desertion makes this moment more mirage than magic,
so don’t be surprised if you’re not embraced like an unfolding wrinkle in time.