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

Submitted: August 23, 2018

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Submitted: August 23, 2018



my mother
and my father
were divorced before
I was a year old

Catholic tradition calls this an annulment
it's like a do-over
which sounds good for dogmatic narratives
but any kid caught in the middle
will eventually figure out what that word means
and once seen
it cannot be unseen

it's like the marriage never happened
like the gods
turned their heads and went in another direction
and never looked back

it wasn't a good marraige
they were too young to know any better
I don't blame them

although he always lived close
I seldom saw my father
two or three times a year
at best
and because the relationship
was so strained and broken
I had no frame of reference
for who he actually was

I never called him anything
but his first name

I had a neighbor
whose dad collected records
and sometimes I'd go over there
just to look through the covers
because I had found
that Eddie Rabbitt
looked similar enough to the man
who Id visit once and a while

when I felt particularly sad or scared
or lonely or confused
I'd go over to the Vestersee's house
and find that album
just to look at that picture
because it was the only image I had

kids are brutal at times
and because I still had his last name
I'd get picked on constantly
for being "adopted"

it wasn't true
but I didn't know that then
I didn't even know what that meant

I was only 8 years old

in a few days
it'll be ten years
since he was taken away
in a terrible accident

he was a logger all his life
and this time the woods finally got him
a fresh-cut tree got hung up against another
still standing
then released itself in an instant
crushing his head
into the frozen ground
he didn't have a chance

the First Responders found his hard hat
split cleanly in two
those pieces were found
forty feet apart in the snow

the funeral
was just a few days later

they had him done up well enough
for an open casket
he was dressed in his sweat pants
and Walter Payton jersey
which was fitting
and brought some levity
to the whole ordeal

the line of people that came to see him
and pay condolences
stretched all the way outside the church
in the middle of winter

people stood in the cold
to pay their final respects

tragedies like this
bring whole communities together
especially small ones

I stood at the end of the row
of immediate family
receiving kind words
gentle handshakes
and genuine hugs

I stood
for what seemed like hours
at the end of the line
as a lifetime worth of his people
shuffled slowly past his family

when most of the folks
got to me
I was asked
"and who are you?"
or some polite variation of that

I'm sure I told over a hundred people
that day
"I'm his son"

each time I had to say it
I felt worse and worse
the dissonance was building waves
and waves inside of me
I had no strength left to fight it

the red oak casket
right there in front of me

I stood there
and thought of the Eddie Rabbitt album cover
and all the time
in between
that didn't happen
all kinds of questions
and things left unsaid
now scattered to the wind
it was over
it was gone now

by the end of that day
he was in the ground
and just like that
it was over
it was annulled

I've been collecting records
ever since

© Copyright 2019 peter engen. All rights reserved.

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