Daddy’s clothes, 1994

stained glass

As I closed the door

and he walked away

my heart raced

as it does after a nightmare.

Ten minutes ago he asked

if I would wear his class ring.

I panicked, sputtering excuses:

“You paid a lot of money for it,”

and “It’s way too big.”

I’m not ready

to be stamped with his brand.

I’ll put on Daddy’s old sweatshirt

and hug my arms around my middle.

Big and baggy is in

and boys don’t stare.

I wear Daddy’s blue oxford dress shirts,

bass fishing tournament tees

(even though I hate flying hooks)

and printed rayon button-downs.

My favorite shirt drapes softly over me

with its moody kaleidoscope:

dark blues and purples, greens and magenta

fragmented by black lines

like a Tiffany lampshade.

When I look through the violet panes

melancholy floods me

and I long for the touch

of something just beyond my reach.

Movie alone: American Beauty, 1999

Rosa_American_Beauty_illustrationIn that autumn of disappointment

I wore my brand new birthday sweater

not yet knowing

the fuzzy balls would soon sprout all over

like overnight dandelions.

I cursed myself for arriving

before the lights dimmed.

Better to risk a bad seat

than endure curious stares

from dozens of couples.

I invented alibis, just in case:

“He’s in the bathroom.”

“He’s buying popcorn.”

Then—“He stood me up.”

But no one spoke.

Why didn’t I wait for the rental?

I’m tired of too much school and work but no life.

I’m tired of unreturned emails from my best friend.

I’m tired of this crushing isolation.

A night out will do me good, I reasoned.

As the movie unfolded in the dark

the melancholy thorns pricked me

while I sought a beautiful escape.

No longer naive

I rushed to my car before the credits rolled

and my loneliness multiplied

like mushrooms after rain.

Father figure

Porträt des Grafen von Seilern mit Tochter, by Vaclav Brozik, 1895

Porträt des Grafen von Seilern mit Tochter, by Vaclav Brozik, 1895

“God sets the lonely in families.”  Psalm 68:6

He doesn’t know

the little girl inside me

leaps when we chat.

He consistently arrives.

He speaks with respect.

He defers to my femininity.

He listens and affirms.

He self-effaces though he could boast.

Best of all

faith is a bridge

not a barrier.

So often I tell myself

I don’t need a daddy anymore.

But sometimes the deep cavern opens

and grief rushes to the surface.

Today I am healed

by the kind attention

of a silver-haired man

who doesn’t recognize

the blessing he bestows.