In This Instance Photography at Etsy
In This Instance Photography at Etsy

I watch my tennis shoes

I had painted white

as they step down the sidewalk,

a Catholic school girl on her way to school

in the late Spring

heat, when I pass a tavern,

the door held open by an ashcan

and cigarettes and bleach

stain the air.

I peak into the darkness

knowing he’s in there,

my father, hunched on a stool

in a foggy haze I imagine

his smell, his brown striped shirts

his long jeans faded at the knees

Is he still shy and scared?  He’s

blue eyes magnified in his brown

goggle glasses, the sweeping lashes

my Aunt says I have his eyes

and it makes my chest hurt.

I hear the scrape of metal

across the floor and I take off

in my pleated skirt a size too big

and forget I was ever there.

Eleven years later

I find him at another tavern

across town, hunched over

a beer.  Haven’t talked to him

in years.  My stomach flits,

I sit down next to him,

“Hi, dad,” and he turns,

the same eyes

blinking at me.  It takes him

a second.  “Hi, you!” and his

face lights up like a child.

He hugs me and with my arms

around him in his brown striped shirt

I smell him and again

the chest pain

“I love you, how’ve you been?”

and somehow he knows everything

about me.

“See?  See Vern?  I tolds ya I had

kids,” he boasts to the bartender,

and he pulls out his old

wallet and takes out

three pictures of my sisters and I,

aged three, four, and five—

the last year he had us.

“I keep these in my wallet here,

so’s I can look at you’s.”

I have a beer with my daddy.

There was no past or future there,

we were just blood relatives

having a beer, wishing for so much

from each other and not knowing

what that was.

5 thoughts on “FORGETTING

  1. This is quietly powerful. I like the parallels in the two scenes. Your command of language and description are, as usual, masterful. The first part is about being little and looking up at the grown-ups and feeling powerless and scared. The second part is about being adult-sized and seeing the world (and those in it) for what they are. There is real tenderness in this scene. You write about your father with an affection that is true, but there’s always that longing for connection. You end as peers both needing from each other, and both in your own ways, proud of and claiming each other. This is a beautiful, poignant piece. (Makes me miss my father, left this world 14 years ago this month.) May all the beautiful, loving and good things come your way, firm embrace, Pop-o Moskowitz



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