Servant of the Secret Fire

Random thoughts on books and life in the reality-based community

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Location: New York, United States

The name I've chosen comes from "Lord of the Rings," when Gandalf faces down the Balrog in the Mines of Moria. My Hebrew name is Esther (which is related to the word for "hidden" or "secret") Serafina (which means "burning"). This seems appropriate because although I don't usually put myself forward, I do care very passionately about a lot of things. Maybe through these blogs I can share some of these passions, as well as less weighty ideas and opinions, with others.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Stranger in the Shadows

(For those of us who never had cause to celebrate Father's Day)

Father, Father -
What does that word mean?
It has a sour taste on my tongue.
It jars in my ears.
My mind rejects it –

A father is something other children have.

A father is fear –
a stranger coming in, snatching me up –
angry, yelling at Momma, smelling of sour liquor.
(The smell still makes me sick.)
The police made you go away.

And yet, in my fantasies
I called you "Daddy."
Not often, but sometimes –
testing the word on my tongue,
wondering what it would be like
to really mean it.

I was going to be famous –
When I was rich, or the Queen of England
you would come, begging my forgiveness,
wanting your little girl back –
Would I forgive you, or throw you in the Tower?
Sometimes one, more often the other.
Your chances were slim.

Then one day, it was over.
My sister, getting me out of class - "Our father's dead."
What should it mean to me?
Momma said, "You must go to the funeral."
"Why? I never knew the man."
"He was your father."
What is a father?

We went through the scattered remnants of your life.
Pictures of a party, with lots of girls.
Pictures of our half-sister, and bonds for her.
The gun you kept beneath your bed, when the pain was bad.
A pair of binoculars –
I have them still, and still I cannot see you –

And children who don't know what a father is.

No pictures of us,
no letters, nothing -
although you knew that you were dying -
no sign that we ever existed
except our bodies, and the void
of what we never felt for you.

Half my genes are yours.
I have your hair, your bad back, your walk.
Momma says sometimes, "You're just like your father."

What is a father?
I ask you "Why?"
and all I hear is silence
from the stranger in the shadows of my life.

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