When I went out to skip my rope, I hung
a picture in my stepdad’s eyes. He swore
I looked just like my mother when she wore
her stiff pigtails. He’d been too shy, too young
to carve a peach with her in mind or plumb
a hook to bait the bashful fish for her.
He said he paced a moat before her door
until her husband spewed out hate and rum
and told him he was made for her. He’s not
the father I had known who’d cut and weld
a barbecue and pride about his meat.
He patterns doilies from a borrowed cloth
and dries a spray of mugwort on the shelf
to keep away the man he must complete.
If you have any comments on this poem, J.M. McBirnie
would be pleased to hear from you.