FATHER, DAUGHTER, HUNGRY GHOST
Sometimes Mom would say to you
Why don’t you two drive into town
and get a milkshake, get a Coke.
What she meant was: spend some
time with your daughter. Talk to her.
Both of us were so reserved. The shrink
I saw when I was eight said I was fine
even though I seldom spoke.
I’d learned there were things I shouldn’t say
such as when I grow up I want to be a painter
or a waitress. You said waitresses don’t make
much money; painters only get famous after
they die. Your father was the colonel;
I guess you thought it’s what a father was
supposed to say. We rode into town
in your old truck, listening to Dire Straits
not saying much, sipping our cold drinks.
A few years later you took me out on my first
date, to show me how a man should treat me:
you wore a suit, you opened doors and kept
your hands to yourself. You were the first man
I ever loved, I loved you like they said I should
love God, I loved you like the moon:
with wistful, distant admiration.
The boys I snuck out at night to see
were nothing like that, though. They
came to my window late like sneaks
and said, Come out there is no moon,
let me hold you in the dark. I did.
Before that though we’d talked for hours
on the phone. I would have given anything
to keep them on the line.
—from Rattle #75, Spring 2022
E.D. Watson: “Like yoga or meditation, writing poetry is a practice, a discipline to help keep my heart open. It’s also sometimes a form of prayer. Sometimes it’s spell-casting: the right words in the right order make magic. But mostly I write poetry to be understood—first and foremost by myself. Which is to say, I often don’t know how I feel about a thing until I write about it. For me, writing poetry isn’t only about art; it is about naming those weird emotions that live like blind crustaceans in the deep-sea part of me.” (web)