“My Father Loves Me, He Loves Me” by Angelo Verga

Angelo Verga


My father hugs me, and sweats
we go down one step
at a time
face to face, neck to neck

My hands under his arms
my left foot
then my right foot down
my face rests on his chest
then his right leg drifts, descends
the foot hesitant, his face clenched

A long rest, and then, his left floats
joins its best friend and
his face softens, less tense

One step of the twelve-step staircase done

Five minutes later we’ve bottomed
This is fun, I say

We look gay, he frowns, out of breath

and we both laugh, till his eyes grow wet

The two doors, inner and outer
are easier, but slow

Outside we try another dance
he holds the banister with one hand
my shoulder with his other
I have one hand halfway
around his titanic belly
and the other free, if he
should begin to let go or fall

The car in the driveway with its small
unlocked door seems far away

How am I going to get in? he asks
Ass first; then one leg at a time
And slow, slow, dad, we’ve got no deadline
Eleven o ‘clock, he corrects
The doctor can’t start without us, pop, no sweat

But I am wrong, his shirt is drenched wet,
His thin hair matted, and flat

from Rattle #21, Summer 2004


Angelo Verga: “I recently took a bus from New York City to the Boston area and gave four poetry readings before various groups that sponsored me. After one of these, in a large and drafty home in Watertown, Massachusetts, a man about 50 years old told me he’d been moved by several of my poems; then he said he was going right home to hug his kids, to let them know he loved them, and to feel more deeply their love for him. Best review I ever got!” (webpage)

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