Ice Cream Money

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic


What do you do when you get a letter from an estranged sort-of relative? Write a poem about it, obviously. Is there another logical course of action?

Submitted: June 12, 2018

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Submitted: June 12, 2018

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There’s a box that sits on my closet shelf,

Gathering dust as the years crawl by,

Filled with old cards, broken promises, notes–

Memories of an old man who tried.

 

Dear Little Kathryn– Happy 3rd birthday!

I love you so much, I could scream.

I’m sorry I couldn’t make it to your party–

Here is a dollar for ice cream!

 

I was always Kathryn to Grandpa– Little Kaye!–

For my grandmother, who passed years before.

He lived close, but I only saw him eight times–

He watched me once, when I was four.

 

Dear Little Kathryn– Happy 4th birthday!

I love you so much, I could scream.

I’m sorry I couldn’t make it to celebrate–

Here is a dollar for ice cream!

 

The woman he married after Grandma Kaye died

Waged a battle with anxiety and fear.

She saw love as a resource that’s finite–

She thought that it couldn’t be shared.

 

Dear Little Kathryn– Good job starting school!

I love you so much I could scream.

I’m sorry I couldn’t come over last week–

Here is a dollar for ice cream!

 

She gave my grandfather a simple choice:

There’s room for the grandkids or me in your life.

My father blames her, but my mother points out

It was my grandfather who chose his wife.

 

Dear Little Kathryn– Happy 5th birthday!

I love you so much, I could scream.

I’ll be at your graduation from Kindergarten–

For now, here’s a dollar for ice cream!

 

Each note is filled with sorrow, pleading–

A half-hearted attempt to buy love– to repair.

I liked getting his money and I liked getting his cards

But mostly, I wanted him there.

 

Dear Little Kathryn– Happy graduation from Kinder!

I love you so much, I could scream.

I’m so sorry that I couldn’t make it–

Here is a dollar for ice cream!

 

He died a month before I turned seven.

I remember that I didn’t cry.

Nothing seemed different from normal–

I didn’t understand that he’d died.

 

Dear Little Kathryn– Happy 6th birthday!

I love you so much, I could scream.

I’ll come for your seventh birthday, I promise–

Here is a dollar for ice cream!

 

Eleven years have passed since the funeral

I understand now how things were.

I haven’t thought much about it til today

When I got a letter from her.

 

Dear Kathryn– Congrats on graduation!

He’d be proud of you, I know.

I am sorry I couldn’t be there for you,

As this check will hopefully show.

 

Money can’t give back my childhood

With a grandfather I never knew.

I am not a toddler to be bribed now–

I don’t need her money, too.

 

Dear Madam, this check I’m returning.

I don’t need it, and I don’t need you.

You weren’t there because you never wanted to be,

And you kept my grandfather away, too—

 

But I stop as I pause and wonder–

Why did she write to me?

Her husband is dead and my family ignores her–

How lonely that must be.

 

Dear Madam, thanks for your letter.

It was kind of you to think of.

I hope you’re well and happy now,

And I hope that you’ve found love.

 

I set her card in the box in my closet

With the letters her husband wrote to me.

They didn’t understand that love can’t be bought–

I don’t condone them, but at least now I see.

 

Dear Grandpa, Dear Madam, it’s Kathryn–

I think you both did the best you could do.

You were both wrong about life, and wrong about love,

But I hope that you know I forgive you.

 

I push the box deep into my closet–

And the past once again fades, like a dream.

Back in the present, my cousins are begging to play–

Maybe we’ll go share an ice cream.


© Copyright 2018 KathrynAcacia. All rights reserved.

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