TOUGH LOVE

TOUGH LOVE

 

The wedding night is beautiful

and tense, as if inside a catered bathysphere:

a fine buffet and open bar,

 

the father’s absence pressing like an ocean

that will crush us if we say his name.

Only once, when bride and step-dad hug

 

like diplomats to start the father/daughter dance,

the mother of the bride unseals her face

and we’re allowed to quickly miss him

 

as she did, around the fist-shaped holes and

after-midnight wrecks, between our neighbors’

jimmied windows and their unlocked

 

meds. The tiny breach makes smokers need

the parking lot. Out there, all drunk and full

of cake, Aunt Pat’s propped up against

 

the bumper of her car. She grabs at sleeves,

shout-whispers Look who’s here! Pops the trunk

and wags her finger at a little cardboard box

 

labeled “Remains.” Almost eleven months,

she croons. Well, someone had to pick you up.

She flails backward, gasping. Drowning. Tries

 

to look us in the eye. But after everything,

she vows, I’d never have him in my home.

What are you looking for?