Parent & Child

Parent & Child

It is true. I hated my father’s
reptilian toenails, thick,
ridged, battered, as if remnants
Of an armor plating that had failed
To protect him from the world,
And below that barreled belly,
those thin measled shins,
Spotted with their mysterious
Purple bruises, and his deep snoring
As annoying as the buzzing of a large fly
trapped in a tight room
That was my childhood
Recurring nightmare. I still remember
The day I looked down at him
Seeing for the first time
A small man.

My mother dressed me everyday
In her diaphanous silent disappointments.
As a retriever knows without being told
To chase the ball, I understood
I was not to be like him.

My own grown children
Have all recently left
After a brief holiday visit.
The house is again ordered, silent.
It is so trite this longing
To make everything right.

Michael Ansara spent many years as an activist and an organizer. He is the co-founder of Mass Poetry. He currently serves on the Executive Committee of the New Movement to Redress Racial Segregation and the organizing team for Together We Elect. His poems and essays have been published in Salamander, Mid America Poetry Review, Web del Sol, Ibbetson Street, Glint Literary Review, Euphony, Pine Hills Review, Vox, Solstice, and Arrowsmith. His first book of poems, What Remains, will be published next summer by Kelsay Press.

[image: child and father silhouette | Alfonso Scarpa]

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