My Father is the Kind of Man

When my father moved his belongings into the upstairs guest room
I was in another city taking a break from the prison my home town had over the years become.
When I returned home to that place I’d long since outgrown
I found that second story sanctuary invaded
By silence and thoughts of infidelity.

Let me tell you a little bit about my father:
My father is the kind of man
Who has never had a real conversation about his emotional experience
With his wife of almost 30 years
And my father is the kind of man
Who coaches sports teams to winning medals in the state championship
And dives elbow deep into the machinery of 40-foot booms to make them run again
And vanishes for weeks into the rain-drizzled forest every autumn
To admire an 8-point buck through the scope of his rifle.
My father is the kind of man
Who leaps and weeps at a beautiful touchdown by his favorite team
But doesn’t so much as grow misty eyed
To find that his only child is so lost in her depression
That she uses razors to carve into her arms a roadmap of the Hell in her mind
Just so others can see on the outside what she feels on the inside.

My father was the kind of child
Who was struck with such ferocity and such frequency
That he learned that the only way to survive
Was to not feel it at all.
Now my father has grown into the kind of man
Who like the child he was hides in the guest room
While my mother tries to divine in tea leaves what she did to deserve this
And I calculate the chances that he’ll strike me down with his oil-stained fist
If I knock on the door and say,
“It’s time you learned to speak.”

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