So many of my adult friends
have filed complaints against their fathers,
thick dossiers residing inside heavy metal cabinets
marked D for disappointment—
the alcohol, the silences, the parsimony of soul—
embodiments of the distances and distress,
the crippled efforts at love
men are reluctant to reveal to each other.
I just caught a lucky break at birth.
Mine used to say,
never close the door on your own child,
and he meant even when that child
deserved to have it slammed in his face.
This is not to say I don’t have my own entries
in the catalogue of paternal regrets,
but I locate them in a cardboard box
in an airy corner of my house,
a lower-case r penciled on the side.
I never took my father to Bavaria
to buy him a magnum of Hefeweizen
at a secluded Biergarten with the sole purpose
of remembering that crooked smile
as it crawled across the years etched on his face,
the two of us sitting in slanted sunlight,
June flush upon us, a blue cereal bowl of sky
at his back stretching all the way to the horizon.