To The Fathers Who Have Left Us

To the fathers who are gone, whatever your reasons, do you regret your departure?

If good memories predominate then we are fortunate, though the moments that we mix with nostalgia are buried in a past that we refashion to suit us.

We know too well the sunlight, in which we stand at your side.

We know too well the shadows, when you are no longer in the picture.

There are Polaroids in the back of a drawer. There are stories that grow more fragile. There were aging relations to elaborate, but now they are ashes and legend.

* * *

To the fathers who have left us: You who have exited blindly, departed foolishly, looked back reluctantly, kept silent pridefully, strode away negligently — we are orphaned by your choices.

Some of you disappear dutifully or unintentionally. We imagine your reappearance at our celebratory moments.

To the fathers who have left us: There is much you have forsaken — our wins and our losses, our birthdays and our babies. We patch your light into our lives through dreaming and wakefulness. We settle for wisdom we may work to manufacture, the better to fill our wells of abandonment.

To the fathers who have left angrily, callously, meekly, selfishly: Didn’t you understand the responsibilities of need?

* * *

To my father who left to work and to play like so many of his generation: Your absence marked me more than your presence.

Believe me, I am marked.

To my father who reached out in the months before his death: Our connection is a bridge for which I will always be grateful.

Believe me, we are connected.