I can compose no verse for you,
even 38 years after you’ve gone.
Father’s was easy, dropped from
my mind as the IV into his collapsed
vein the rainy night his spirit passed.
And, even though you suffered as
much as he physically, maybe more –
I don’t remember that part of you.
I remember the cruelty of your
efforts to dig out tiny bits of belief
hidden in the dirty fingernail beds
of a dreaming child, drawing blood
to ensure you’d gone deep enough
to get them while no one looked.
When remembering the 18 years
I was with you, or, you with me,
there was no tender touch;
I remember the hard bite of your
teeth and slicing words
meant to undermine any
stability and jealousy of affection
afforded me by a father you
demanded I hate
because of your personal wants.
Yet, there must be something,
some form of seed waiting to
manifest growth, some dormant
pod ready to face the light, stick
its head out of the ground
taste rain unfiltered by mud
and bloom into its destiny.
For 38 years I have searched
as an archaeologist for your verse;
the one that would honor your
life as my father’s did.
I have found no clay tablet
with an inscription bearing clues;
I’ve discovered no remnant
of your love or our bond.
I did, however, uncover bone
and a rock different from the rest
so saved it. Took it home to clean.
It split in half when dropped,
revealing a multifaceted heart
constantly changing in light.
As I watched it spin, I realized
a verse isn’t what you’d really want.
What you’d really want is for me
to understand you did the best
you could according to our contract,
and loved the only way you knew
in the light of your short life.
I learned from this to love more
than the ability to love knew;
to hold onto that gift no matter what.
But, the ability to be loved
was lost somewhere in the shadows
of development, of self-defense
and an anti-trust amendment
instantly activated by dishonesty;
lost somewhere in the fact that
I never hated you, nor thought to
in my rock-paper-scissors choice.
I am not ashamed of being half.
Of the halves I’d choose to love
than be loved as a narcissist
with nothing to give.
Nor do I regret the loss despite
the pain of absence.
We cannot love who we do not know
and we cannot know who is
afraid to tell the truth for fear
of not being loved for themselves.
That’s one belief that was deep,
too deep to scrape or dig out.
The door is closing on many things, Mother; I must admit I’m glad.
I’m tired of looking
and ready to get on with life.
Though I wish things could be different.
So, I’ll pack my tools in the aged shed
of our history, dig no more for you.
I’ll forgo the verse; instead, grant your memory
understanding and forgiveness
that it rest in peace.
And, in honor of your life, believe
in love despite any circumstance.
When your great-grandson asks
(as he does when angry with a friend
or family member) how can I not “hate”
a “bad meanie-head”?
I smile and gently say, “Oh Sweetie…
“Your great-grandmother taught me
to overcome that when I was your age.”
Written by Ahavati
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