Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

Father's Day

Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

Father's Day

Article excerpt

For Father this Father's Day I visit

him at the cemetery. There he lies,

at least his name in stone, and his number,

and below the surface his box of bones

and whatever threads from his best suit live

still. Hello, Father, I say. (I'm standing

at his feet, at the foot of his feet). Sit,

he says. No, sir, I say. I'm still afraid

of you. You're dead, you know. No joke, he says.

Sit. Don't make me have to tell you again.

Yes, sir, I say. I sit. I'm at headstone

-level now. There's his name, which is my name,

too, except that I'm Junior, Named for him

-I still don't know why: I'm the youngest son.

I miss you, Father, I begin again.

You've been gone ten years but it seems like one

day. I start to cry. No crying, he snaps.

You're 50. You're still too damned old to cry.

Wait 'til you're 60. Suck it up. Dry out.

I'm sorry, I say. My tears stand for words.

Then speak them, goddammit, he says. Be a

man. I>m trying, I say. It>s not easy.

Tell me about it, he says. I'm dead. Duh.

Look, I say. I just dropped by because it's

Father's Day, you know. And I want to say

I have a lot of good memories of

you, you know. Taking me to baseball games.

Teaching me how to drive and to garden.

Giving me tips before my honeymoon

and during the divorce. Getting me a dog.

Helping me with my algebra homework.

Putting me through college. Sending money.

I pause. He says nothing. I start again.

You used to be so young, I say. …

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