Tim Vrtiska CC
Poems from First Father
I believed, for more than 30 years,
you were drunk when you died,
careless: your tractor trailer careening
off the Loma bridge. I was wrong.
A minor miscalculation, then
a 100-foot drop, a railroad track.
I didn’t know you. I barely belonged
to you. I believe you held me only once.
If I’m wrong, don’t tell me.
Your heart survived the fall,
at first, held fast within
its cracked bone cage. Who
felt the final delicate beat?
Who measured what was left?
How we forget the ways
a heart can break--
tender red pear,
she told me last spring / what was left of you
forty-three years ago / after us / when you were
better / sober / working / larger than life / turns out
you were more / you / than before she took
my place / I pretend I’m her / the other daughter
from the other wife / I pretend / I’m the one
you’re teaching / to play piano / sitting
next to you / on the bench / the one / feeling
your fingers / guiding / to the right keys / mine
Melissa Joplin Higley’s poems appear, or are forthcoming, in Feral, The Night Heron Barks, Writer’s Digest, MER, For A Friend anthology (Lucent Dreaming, June 2023), and elsewhere.. She holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and co-facilitates the Poetry Craft Collective. She lives in Mamaroneck, NY with her husband and son. Visit her at: melissajoplinhigley.com.
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