Walk away

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Maybe he was conditioned to walk away

Perhaps he sensed its coming

Lowering himself into the blocks

When she said it was over

That was the starter pistol’s report

Off he went

 

Maybe he witnessed the maternal bond

Who was he to try and fuck with that?

As much as he could give

He felt he’d be a little short

It was something he couldn’t deny us

Arms limp at his sides, he walked away

 

I like to imagine that he argued

That he cried in attempts to stay whole

That he held us in his arms

Tears streaking down his face

The look of a broken man

His face a setting sun melting into the ocean

 

I like to imagine that he called constantly

Trying to make amends to bridge the distance

That we were at the forefront of his mind

That he showed up uninvited

Diapers under one arm

A teddy bear under the other

 

I have a half-sister I’ve never met

That he walked away from first

Maybe she was the hardest

When my mom pointed at the door

It was like Pavlov ringing a bell

Without thought he found himself alone

 

I was left with a gaping hole in my chest

A severed, invisible umbilical

Trailing out behind me

The weight of a logging chain

Leaving a trail of black bile

For most of my life

 

My father reentered my life a few years later

Reaffirming a bond I always knew I needed

A puzzle piece fitting my chest hole perfectly

I no longer dragged that logging chain

Though I no longer envied other children

I had gained a friend in him more than a father

 

I think he felt that he gave up that right

That it would be a waste of time anyway

When so much joy was had just being friends

And when life was a storm he was a safe port

Two years ago a storm washed away that port

I’m often come undone at the thought of this

 

Looking at my two-year-old son

I imagine the hole in his chest

That I can only fill with stories

Of his quirky, loving grandfather

That he’ll have no memory of

And have to trust my recollection of him

 

At the same time I long for that lost period

The early years I didn’t have my father

I look at my son

And I couldn’t imagine walking away

I would level a city, sell my soul to the devil

To be by his side

 

As a child, brought up catholic

I believed in a heaven and hell

I’ve since stepped away from faith

And I put my belief in Socratic method

Which relies on student-teacher dialogue

I’ve lost my teacher but gained a student

 

Thinking of the loss of my father

My fading youth

My son’s long journey ahead

I hope I’m wrong about heaven

I hope I’m wrong

When I have no choice but to…walk away

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18 thoughts on “Walk away

  1. I agree, poignant indeed. A wonderfully told story with such timesof sadness and sorrow, but also events that caused the narrator to choose a different path than his father, leaving with shoulders hunched. I’m glad he got to know his father later, even as a friend and that he is the father to his little guy, his own father chose not to be, walking away. I think telling him stories about his Grandpa is wonderful as well.

    I don’t know a great deal about Catholicism, but I know some of their beliefs led to the formation of many other Christian religions where the focus was not on ‘fire and brimstone’ but that God loved us and sent Jesus, his son, to die for us, so that believing in Him, we could go to Heaven. And that’s an assurance. I’m not trying to push any Christianity on you when I say this. I’m just saying, in my opinion. there’s hope and assurance that Heaven is most definantly real and it’s not deeds or repeated Hail Marys that will get you there. Faith alone will. So I too hope Heaven is real and that the narrators father is now there.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Amazing journey your words have brought us on. Reminds me of my own childhood, but different stories (of course). Somehow I guess hearing what someone else has endured reminds us of our own regrets of “what could have been” despite the fact that we could not change them. So glad you want to be there for your son. A father is such an important part of that whole.

    Liked by 1 person

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