Seasons of My Father

— Leslie Hoffman


She sits in his parlor, waiting, quite properly and stiff
except her fingers are twisting the hem of her dress

Mom told me he’s handsome—tall with blue eyes
But I’m not pretty, and what if I cry

The slam of a door, footsteps come closer

I won’t let him kiss me—oh no, it’s too late

She cautiously leans toward his embrace

No, no tears, he won’t see me cry

But her lips are moist and taste of salt
when she calls this stranger…Father


He threw his arms around me
brushed my cheek with a kiss
and for a moment, I forgot
what hadn’t been
for thirty-something years

I followed him into his house where
July heat had stayed the night and
he put on a pot of coffee while
the Ozarks filtered dawn’s light

We sat at the kitchen table, each
wondering what to expect, both
silently studying the other, each
afraid to commit

He reached out
to pour my coffee
I placed my hand on his
and for a moment, both
father and daughter
forgot what hadn’t been


I did not go to my father’s funeral

I did shout—I love you, Dad
into the telephone
the night before he died
at the VA hospital

His voice cracked
as he mumbled an incoherent reply

Maybe, it was—I love you, too
the night before he died


2 thoughts on “Seasons of My Father

  1. How valid your observations are. What you state so simply is the dialogue of the world – no matter what language the child recognizes the desolate wasteland of abandonment, and often impossible task of growing a rose of conciliation. You write with authority and understanding. M.

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