Father’s Day

Three years old
Daddy sitting on the driveway
tightening the bolts
on my tricycle
to make sure the wheels
don’t slip and bend and
wobble away.
Daddy, trying to make sure
my world was stable
safe as he could.
I ran by, wrapped my
string-bean arms round
his neck and left a
wet sticky kiss on his cheek.
Laughter, arm reaching
to hook me around
for an embrace.
“Love you” I shouted into his ear
with the graceless exuberance
of a child secure in the knowledge
that she’s loved.

I bring that memory out
examine it
as something foreign.
Sharp contrast to backhands
and “shut up”
and “stop being stupid”
and “you look like a slut”
and “no one loves bitches”
that suffocate and beat down
“I love yous” and
bedtime stories and
lullabies and
tucking me in at night.

All of it spins me around
and nauseates
clamors for attention
in the silence that
sits heavy between me
and my father
for the past six years.

Happy Father’s Day
tastes bitter in my mouth
and tears sting
when I try to sort
the memories.
The love feels like a lie
because of what happened later.

Every post from loving
child, or spouse
to loving father
curves my lips in a smile
grows and contracts
my heart
because love is beautiful
and those children
deserve their loving fathers.

I just really miss mine,
even though he’s
a long lost memory.

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