Things I Wish I Could Say to my Father on the Second Anniversary of His Death
Carl Auerbach lives in New York City, where he has a private practice of psychotherapy.
Now that his four children are grown, he is pursuing a long-standing interest in poetry. He has had three poems and a short story nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Baltimore Review, Bayou Magazine, Blue Lake Review, Brink Magazine, Chrysalis Reader, The Coachella Review, Colere, Confluence, descant, The Distillery, Eclipse, Eleven Eleven, Euphony, Evansville Review, Forge, Freshwater, The Green Hills Literary Lantern, The Griffin, G.W. Review, Hawaii Pacific Review, Licking River Review, Louisville Review, The MacGuffin, The Minetta Review, Nimrod International Journal, North American Review, Oregon East, Organs of Vision and Speech Magazine, Passager, Pearl, Permafrost, Poem, RE:AL, Red Wheelbarrow Literary Magazine, Sanskrit, Schuylkill Valley Journal Of The Arts, The South Carolina Review, Spillway, Talking River, The Texas Review, Third Coast, Westview, and The Write Room.
They told me I couldn't really live my life
until you were dead.
I didn't believe them but now see that it's true.
Just before you died you called me "sonny."
How old were you, when you spoke like that?
How old was I?
They say I fell asleep once, in your lap,
when I was little, melted to your body.
That must have happened, if it did,
a long, long time ago.
Most of the time you were a mean and nasty man,
which a part of you felt bad about,
although you couldn't say.
I'll never forgive you.
I forgive you.
If you wanted to teach me about sex,
asking me if I knew about the birds and bees
was not the way to start.
I have no fond memories, none that I can find.
How sad for me; sadder still for you.
I wish you could have taught me what you loved—
to build machines, even though I'd never be
as good at that as you.
Could you have lived with that?
When I drove you to the hospital
a voice, your voice, in my head,
criticized my driving.
I learned to shut it off,
but I don't know at what price.
I can't forgive you.
A week before you died you told me
all your life you had been running scared.
I didn't know you knew.
I forgive you.
What karmic twist of fate
gave us to each other?
What father did I want?
What son were you hoping for?
What, if anything, did God have in mind?
You're still here.
I miss you.