Sunday, March 28, 2010

happy birthday, dad

This Is How We Find Out

I was old, already in school.
Probably I was five. Much later than five
and dad would be dead.
I tromped through the backyard gate sobbing,

ponytail swishing, eyes streaming.
I can’t remember what for. I ran
past the wood pile, the swing set, and my father
working beside the shed. He rose

from a squat in his khaki pants and white tee shirt,
put down the measuring tape and moved toward me,
all concern. He called out my name.
My back to him, I stared down the dirty grey shingles

in a stubborn pout before fleeing for the kitchen.
My dad reached for my shirt tail
too late; the screen door
slamming like the end of the world behind me,

his outline halted on the other side.
This is how we find out what’s important.
Each year of elementary school
I made father’s day cards I threw out

on the way home, like the one
in the shape of a suit jacket, glue showing
around the edge of the orange tie.
My father didn’t wear suits.

He lingered in sweaty work clothes
outside the screen door,
the shadow of a man making for the handle,
his arm dropping again to his side.


bobbie said...

Your dad would be so proud of you today, Kit. Just as I am.

I know he's somewhere, still loving us.

I never knew about the cards.

Susannah said...

Heartbreaking and beautiful...

Christine Gram said...

Your turn to make me cry.

I never thought about the kids who didn't have someone to bring their crafts home to.

Dianne said...

this is beautiful Kitty, absolutely beautiful

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