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FATHERS

I met you once, when I was three years old.
You came to the door,
Saying you came to see the boy once more
Before you moved to California.

It was three decades before I remembered our meeting.
Because our words were similar, I tried to meet you
To find out if I could break into Broadway or Hollywood,
But you refused every time.
You were already dead when I learned you were my father.

Perhaps you agreed not to ever make contact with me.
“You’re not supposed to be here,” my mother said to you,
That summer morning when you came.

You had other children.
Perhaps you kept your end of the bargain.
But we were so similar—both wrote poetry, plays—
Both politically Left,
Both activists.
But we never shared of cup of coffee,
Never had a five minute chat.

The man who raised me didn’t like me,
Humiliated me at every turn.
I grew up thinking that I didn’t belong
To the fraternity of men.
Now I know that neither of you belonged to that fraternity either.
You couldn’t get me in even if you tried.
We could have talked about that,

But by that time, you were both dead.
One remembered, one forgotten.
One celebrated, one ignored.

And I live with both of you in my soul.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

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