Monday, March 10, 2014

They meant well

In my bedroom, we face each other, 
me slumped on my twin, my father  
upright on my sister’s bed. 
He has closed the door behind him. 
We are alone. For once he is not glaring.
He is staring--how queer to be so eyeballed 
by him, to be so carefully surveyed,
to be waiting for me to speak, to be all ears. 
I am sobbing, my scalp throbs where my mother 
tore away hair; she, discomposed, fulminating, fears 
I might have copulated. 
My father, in uniform, in the soft voice of a man 
handing me flowers, says:
Give me the soldier’s name.
He is leaning toward me, he is clasping his hands, 
he is staring, his eyes narrow, he takes me in.
I only know his first name, I say.
My father tips one ear up as if he has just heard 
an odd bird call, and then he clears his throat 
and he goes. 
My father was such an amateur.

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