oh my father; who came before me, and his father, who died early, and his father, who liked whiskey, and his father, who ran drugs through countries, and his father, who ate too much and shouted plenty, and his father - was this the one that started the cycle? who first raised fist like man raises torch with fire? who first called down thunder onto cowering heads, who brought storms into houses? was it his father before him? where does the blame rest? on whose shoulders do i shrug it? do i pass it off and make my father a better man? cut out the pieces of him that make him a catastrophe? without rage do his hands become carpenter hard but soft and loving, do i no longer flinch when he moves them towards me. without anger do his words become lighter, balloon up and trail on our ceiling and float around without us fearing they will catch on fire. will i see the father of better mornings, when he is at his best, when he is smiling over pancakes and being the man my mother fell in love with. will i no longer guess which father i get today, which switch is flicked, which creature comes out of him. and oh my father, and his father, and so on to the first who raised sons to be a rifle - when i meet him, will he finally be the one to tell me i am loved? that i’m a good enough daughter? when i meet him - god, what if i meet him and the only thing i know how to do is beat him? what if i start the cycle myself, the way that it threatens to keep breathing in me when i raise children. what if. what if.
i see his hands, and carpenter scars and a laugh that shakes a building.
happy father’s day, i write him. oh my father. there will be no more raised hands after me. it doesn’t matter who started it, he’d say to me, i’m ending it. and i’m ending it. after all of this i forgive you, or i’m learning to, or at least i’m learning how not to let it ruin me.
oh my father. i am sorry. and i am free.