When my father learned of my mother’s death
he called to complain. He and I had not spoken
for ten years. “You should have told me.
I could have saved her.” The years
he had not seen her added up to twenty.
My brother invited him to the funeral
but neglected to tell the rest of us.
I didn’t recognize my father, he hadn’t warranted
a second look, a worn man sitting alone
dry-eyed, appearing peeved and put out.
When I learned he was in attendance
a premature ping of pleasure sparked my interest.
Had he finally managed to show the well deserved
respect to the mother of the four children he abandoned
depriving them of explanation or consolation?
“You can have a relationship with him if you want,”
my mother assured me often. “But you’ll have to do all
the work, you’ll need to accept it will be all about him.”
She seemed to think it wouldn’t be worth the effort.
I hadn’t agreed, tried for years to attract his empathetic embrace
until he halted my attempts by indicating,
“It’s too late for us to have a relationship, you know.
I hope you realize that.”
At my mother’s reception, cloudy and confused
he monopolized my bereaved kindness
and despairing over his overlooked contributions
he grumbled, “I took some of those photos, you know.”
He arrested my attention with a litany of problems –
Did he mean to vie for his estranged daughter’s sympathy
on the day she buried her mother?
When a neighbor interrupted to offer her condolences
along with a tear-stained good-bye, he fretted.
“But I wasn’t finished yet!”
I suddenly felt silly for the years lamenting
Scales falling I could see my mother’s practicality
re-routed through my eyes, re-booting my brain,
fashioning the much needed release
from the sting of my father’s tactless declarations.
Written for Vice Versa #13 @ Poets United</a>. I'm finding it interesting how the prompts from this challenge return me to difficult experiences from my childhood. I'm realizing there are poems lined up in the anteroom of my imagination waiting to be written into existence, poems I've resisted writing, even though I've tried before, many times. The prompts lately seem to be tailor-made for these poems and it is a relief to finally give them their due. This poem was a difficult one for me and so I don't feel it is finished or is quite right and welcome any suggestions or observations. I'm also posting on Open Link Night @ dVerse</a>. Thank you for your visit.