Daddy Dearest

By , Coppell, TX
The swing squeaks, the chain groans-
was it always this rusty?-
and I don't think I go as high
as I did in my years of elementary school here,
years of ignorant bliss.

On career day,
I had proudly introduced my daddy,
the lawyer,
because I didn't know he was anything else,
because I was naïve.

I could have said "my daddy,
the double-man"-
were the lips he used to kiss the harlot-red lips of his lovers,
the same ones he used to kiss me goodnight,
or did he have two pairs of lips,
a dirty pair for them; a clean pair for me,
or, sometimes, did he leave a stain
of their cheap lipstick on my forehead?
Did he have two pairs of arms, too,
one for carrying me to my bed after I fell asleep,
and one for carrying them to bed to not fall asleep,
or, sometimes, did he leave a trace
of their perfume on my Barbie nightgown?
Did he have two minds, too,
one to think about his good life,
the one with me and mommy and the baby,
and one to think about his bad life,
the one with closed doors and drinking and adultery,
or were we all lumped together,
so nothing kept me safe from all the bad women in his head?
Could we even exist in the same mind together?

Better yet, I could have said "my daddy,
the stranger"-
a man I may never really know,
because he tries to hide all the shameful truths,
and maybe all I know,
is only the tip of the iceberg,
because he's supposed to be Superman,
and he was until I discovered the other man
who also inhabited his body;
until I realized I didn't love daddy,
I only loved the man I had thought daddy was.

Off the breaking swing,
on to my mother's home,
to cry for the little girl who loved her daddy,
because she never knew any better,
from the safety of a single bed.
Can I miss my Superdad, who is dead,
though he only existed in my head?





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