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Patricia Rae Freed

What luck!

Got it for free

Never had to go out and find

That father of mine:

"Say", whatever your name is,

"I'm the little girl you walked out on.

Some thirty years it's been now."


He just swung right into

That hospital room

Visiting, we were,

A mutual and ailing relation.

Held on to my chair, I did

And said:

"Steady now."


The shock of his aging

Hit me first.

It didn't help that




Three days stubble.

Eyes, badly focused

Crusted with clear, thin, ice.

Tobacco had done its job

On those two front teeth

Or was their color due

To simple decay?

There was



Beneath a cowboy shirt

But the tweed jacket

And the plaid fedora

Had the look of a man

Who knows a good cut

When he sees one

That jaunty hat

Shielding so well

A vanity about baldness

I remembered from

Another life.


"Well", he said


The eyes had always rimmed red so easily

"It's all come to me too late."

Knowing now I had the upper hand

I rallied:

"Think of those it never comes to at all."

Added, still enjoying the sport:

"Is it clean money at least?"

Money is money!

Only against the law if you get caught!

A sickness if you lose!

Be a winner and you'll live forever!

This, his answer,

Refrains again,

From my past.


"Oh!  I have a friend," I offer,

He deals in dope


Perhaps you know each other..."

Reverting to another pattern

Moralizing to my no good old man

He shakes his head

As if to say:

"I never could win with you."

With my Mother either

I wanted to yell

But finally did say

Out loud

How hard it must have been

To fight her perfection

How hard to be rescued

From her strength.



From this

I got him to talk

About his five wives

Always with the jokes

He tells me next time

He'll have to be listed

In the yellow pages.

Not under "fathers"

Someone says in my head

But I want

More than anything

For him to be proud of me

So I say nothing

Then I go about

Verifying some facts:

"You did give me a set of golf clubs

When I was born?"

Not saying:

"That meant you loved me

Or at least had some hopes."


There we stood

Like two lovers

Trying to talk

Over the din

Of a dying woman

Whose hand I'd forgotten

I was clutching.

Could it be on this

Her death bed,

That she recovered herself

In the presence of father and child

Enough to see

Enough to hear

My slightest murmur of a reply when he

Finally asked:

"Could we have lunch sometime?

Not even God would have to know."

"It's a possibility,

I'll think it over."

"Anything is a possibility in this life..."

Says my hardened old aunt

And she relaxes at last

Back to the pillows

Against which she's been straining

To hear

This song.