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The One I Think of Now


ISSUE:  Autumn 2001
At the end of my stepfather’s life
when his anger was gone,
and the saplings of his failed
nursery had grown into trees,

my newly feminist mother had him
in the kitchen to pay for all
those years he only did the carving.
“You know where that is,”
she would say as he looked
for a knife to cut the cheese
and a tray to serve it with,
his apron wide as a dress
above his workboots, confused
as a girl. He is the one I think of now,
lifting the tray for my family,
the guests, until at last he comes
to me. And I, no less confused,
look down from his hurt eyes as if
there were nothing between us
except an arrangement of cheese,
and not this bafflement, these
almost tender hands that once
swung hammers and drove machines
and insisted that I learn to be a man.

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