(12 September 1998)
1998 by Kristi Martel

You father me now.

I can call you up on Sundays
and expect to share with you your joys
and troubles and even get advice
on mine. Now
you are my friend.

I wish I'd known this would happen
when I was little
and called you to remind you
I hadn't seen you in months.
And when I would visit
I felt your silences dig into me
the pain you would not feel
but instead sunk
into the beer you asked me to get from the fridge
for you. I didn't quite come up
to your waist then.

if I'd known
I would not have spent years
knowing I hated you,
knowing you as your absence
and my mother's story
of late child support payments, drunkenness
and infidelity. Maybe that feeling that we
were something you were sinking
into a mud of have-not,
would not have let me believe
you would not have me.

The cost
is that I now start over.
Now I begin to imagine
you loved me and did not know how.
You lived in a money world
of big shots that know how to play games
but not with children. You showed me off,
your star child, your playing piece,
and now I see that to you that was love.
Now that becomes me.

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