This may not be true

This may not be true.

My father doesn’t remember exactly,
But says he may, he just may.

I was in a dress just above my knees.
I want it to be white with red trim,
Prim, crisp cotton. And my hair just so,
Large curls reaching up, and my lips too.

He carried me on his hip, I would say.
Sat me in place on the bench beside him,
Or on his lap, I was so small, looking up and out.
Fronts of warm wind reached from him,
And he smelled warm, like breath
And spiced sweat,

Like a summertime hug, his smile close to mine.
They pulled the bar tight across our legs.
The light made him squint and search the sky.
So I looked too.

And the wheel began to turn. Up we went,
Round and round. So high into the air until
We could only go down. There were probably
Clouds, or not clouds, and everything was blue and sun,
Everything was two smiles, two hands clasped,
Mine a bird in the high up nest of his.
Maybe I was two.

A few years later he left my mother and us for another
(Though he would disagree, say he did not cheat,
It has always been the family mystery.)—
Toothy Wilma with boys who chased to kiss us—
And it didn’t last.

And he was lonely and cried, he tells me now.
Rode his Kawasaki with the wind, and tried to keep
Numb watching the Gong Show or Three’s Company,
Or CHiPs, in an apartment whose red curtains
Made everything red, even my naps next to him,
Whispering I wish we lived together, and he said,
Sometimes things can’t be what we want,
And I cried in the heat of that sorry truth.
And he held me till I slept.

And I cried with my mother too, on her lap,
In the corner of a dark dining room, on the extra chair,
When he didn’t call but every few months
And holiday visits were not enough, and the years spun
Blame. I made him pay.

I wrote the kind of letter only a twenty three year old
With some psychology in her pen could write.
He was surely the archetype of my distant boyfriends,
Too old, too wounded, or too far away.

And now, a gardener instead of a student, I could say
He’s the soil of my two failed marriages, my heart
Too lonely or wild a weed to be pruned and tamed,
But wanting to be, just the same.

And now, I see how he could leave, how he could trust
The wheel, how he could love me, and leave me,
And return, and be
Far away and as close as my own breathing.
As unfaithfully faithful to himself as I have ever been.
I have given up believing in him, or me, the free.

And I’ll never know if any of this is true.
But what is true is that I want it to be,
And that we have always been turning
On a wheel into sky above things,
Far from where people on the ground
Can see what we see, and then falling,
An arc of falling over the edge into nothing
Toward earth, never hitting, just— look! –lifting,
Moving blind backwards so we can move forward, up,
Past the red of what we feel, even when we aren’t strong.
It isn’t us, just the hub doing what it does, reeling
Us along into the song of the ferris wheel.


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