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SONG

by

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."


No.


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


Jowls


Hung


Under


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


Fat


Bulging


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


Timorous


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


Pimping,


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.


 


So


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.


.