A novel in verse … and the writing thereof
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My Father’s Suits

When I was not numb, I was angry

     at my father. Anger with my mother I could bear, but

     pity for my father was too much.

It cut me open, and the wound poured tears until

     I yanked its edges closed and sutured it

     with rage: how dare he make me sorry for him,

     how dare he stop protecting me from her, and why

     had he let that fire go out? One night at dinner,

facing his shiny-with-age, too-heavy-for-summer blue suit, I said,

“Dad, why don’t you get some new togs? That one’s

     ancient, and it looks

     just off the boat.”

He looked at me. “‘Just off the boat’? Would that be my

     equivalent to, say, ‘Out of style’?”

I did not deign to answer even his smile.

He glanced at his sleeve and said, “I suppose it’s seen better days.”

And looked at me. I clutched my anger to me,

               naked beneath it,

     and faced him.

His face stayed kind. “Wish you had

     a nattier-looking father, do you, Lindy?”

     My childhood name. I jerked back.

My mother had laid down her fork

     to stare at me.

“There’s a depression on, in case you hadn’t noticed,” she said.

“People can’t just go out and buy

whatever they want. Although,”

she added, picking up her fork, “she’s right about that suit.”

“I’m sorry,” I whispered, the words

     mere scraps to such a wound

and crept away, the floor

tilting under my feet, spilling me into a corner

     upstairs, where I huddled, breathing.

Not one of us had behaved normally. What was going on?

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