“The Chandlers” by Tom Chandler

Tom Chandler


The day my sister was born
my father stayed away from the hospital. 

A rocky pregnancy, laborious labor and it was 1962
and fathers were told to keep clear. 

Besides, I needed him here to heat cans of Chef Boyardee,
stir the silted Tang in my glass, frown over the sports page

and hold a needle to the match flame, squeeze my fingers too
tight and pry the splinter from my palm. 

Next day at school I found forbidden chips in my lunch bag,
a tuna sandwich with too much Miracle Whip, Twinkies and 

a bit of ash from his glowing Pall Mall and my baby sister
came home squalling that same afternoon and after that

we got old and much later he died, all of it just the way
it was supposed to go though nobody thought so at the time.

from Rattle #56, Summer 2017

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Tom Chandler: “I set out to write ‘The Chandlers’ as a story about how my dad took care of me while my mother was in the hospital having my sister. It didn’t seem complete, though, until I summed up everything else in the last lines: ‘And then we got old, and much later he died,’ which is, of course, what happens to everybody, though we tend to think that’s somehow unusual when it happens to us.” (website)

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