Checking on Dad

Watching my father come home from work carrying his official looking leather briefcase and wearing the usual corduroy blazer with elbow patches up the driveway to the front door, silent and torn, like someone working for the government who can’t tell their family what they do for most of the hours of their days, I couldn’t wait to make him feel welcome and familiar.

Comparing him to a beaten pet, which, in truth, is what I really was, and maybe we both were, I think I wanted to hug happiness into him the way you want to make a skittish new dog understand they’ve finally come home, and no longer need to tighten towards a sudden hand or a rope, every time their body wants more than food to run over to you and chomp an enthusiastic hello.

Of course, it goes without saying that this is also what I really wanted for myself, since we both knew we shared the same wound. And why wouldn’t we? Weren’t we both assaulted by the same woman?

I remember this one time just as he was coming home, she’d apparently had enough of our helping one another feel loved, she locked the doors and windows and prevented us from seeing each other, which is about as literal an example of forced neglect as you can get.

I remember her racing around to lock everything and him sitting on the red picnic table with that fancy briefcase of his looking like he’d just witnessed the death of his whole family and couldn’t understand why he was still here, a look that said I can’t come back even though I want to.

Reader, it didn’t matter that I’d gotten outside just before my mother could stop me and, from the back fence, ran and dove into the deep end of my father. It didn’t matter that we were safe. Neither of us were coming up from this. Not really.

But that’s also how I know the real work of my life isn’t poetry, but in learning how to find love where it can’t be found and then coming back to say where and how as accessibly as I can. The work of the wounded healer, and by that shade the paraprofessional, like the work of the poet mystic in the intention they hold to both have and be able to communicate back to an audience a direct experience of absolute love, after years of introspection, is the only work for me.

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