Take up the pages.
They belong to you.
It does not matter what the subject is.
The matter belongs to you, too.
Since the last week in July, my schedule has been abnormal. I chose to take one month off from writing to take time with the boys, John and Charles, and to train for a new job.
So far, so good.
I have written about some of our travels and cooking. While there is one more to come, I thought about what one month off of writing did for me.
It is not something I do often. But, the choice made me think.
What can I write about? I have two novels to edit, but there is so much more to sketch and keep in a folder for future ideas.
Write it honest.
For the first time in one month, I wrote. A poem came out. The piece will be added to a current poetry chapbook I’ve stored away.
Legend of a Father
They could not understand their father.
The grown children did not want to.
What kind of man lets his first wife
play tricks on his daughters?
What sort of man allows
another to step in as dad?
It cost him one daughter
and her two children—
Two grandsons he never expects to see again.
“He was not a good father,” the grown children would say.
When the clouds turn gray,
it is easy to see him
as nothing but a man cast in black.
“You can’t make a father
out of a man like that.”
The bad father’s daughters chose the paths for their lives.
They picked and sorted from their parents’ lies.
Far away, far away one daughter would stray
to keep herself safe from an unhappy home.
What kind of father would leave such a mark—
that his child would choose to run so far?
Ten years free, he chose to live as he never did
with bartending, parties, and learning to dance.
Women came. Women went,
except for the one
who stayed around.
One wedding ring later and a precious boy,
The father said his son
was something more
than a boy to carry on his name.
He was his best chance at fatherhood.
A second son entered the world
when the father questioned
his second marriage.
He’d fallen out of love
by their fourth year together,
But, the bad father chose to stay in fear
he would lose his sons like he lost his daughters.
How easy it is to fill
a child’s head with lies.
How long they stay,
or for life reside.
The father stayed in the marriage
so this time he was the man to raise his kids.
No other man would ever step in.
The boys would remember the father he is.
Love long dead and sweat to survive
the long twenty years when the father
began to believe he would die alone
after a hoped for divorce when the boys
left for college or another future they chose.
Who would eat stale, molding bread?
Those who starve and see the loaf is still food.
The father’s marriages turned stale in early years.
Not made of love, romance, or the things that last.
He needed a few more years to survive,
and he prayed his sons would love him still.
The father committed the greatest sin.
How could his sons forgive him?
Forgive they would not for they were embarrassed and ashamed.
The bad father once again lived up to his name.
He knocked up a girl.
Nothing could be as it was before.
The father faced a final decision:
To keep his sons’ loyalty,
or leave for an infant son.
His one present daughter dismissed the father.
He was rotten and wrong.
Nothing could fix him.
On a Father’s Day, he bowed his head and cried.
His older sons sat through a sermon about fathers.
They did not call or text him at all.
No family called the father when his second son
earned his Eagle Scout.
Why would they call the bad father of all—
who’d broken enough hearts and did not deserve
his four children’s ears, conversations, or love?
Did they blame him for the scars of childhood,
or for the day their grandmother died?
The bad father’s mother could not take the shock.
There was an uncle that father loved dear.
A man name George,
So tall and strong.
A woman out marriage gave birth to his son.
His wife said, “If you leave,
you’ll never see
our girl again.”
Uncle George stayed, and saw his son in secret places.
He never called the boy by name.
A two-year old giggles and cheers
when his father lifts him high
to see the band playing on the street.
He was the father who washed his onesies, changed his diapers,
and put him to sleep.
The father who loves the boy’s mother—
not because she is some girl—
but a woman with discussions
of classic movies, French Revolution, architecture, and mountains.
But, no one believes such things.
Not when the world is drawn
on the surface in black and white.
The father’s fifth child will know nothing of
older siblings or bad fathers.
The boy will call
the father the best of all.
By Rebecca T. Dickinson