Issue 42.2, Winter/Spring 2022

It Feels Like Cheating on My Gone Mother

Photo of sky in side rearview mirror of moving vehicle

driving my father ninety-one miles from home
to vet a potential match the matchmaker found him.

My father, a man who thinks the kitchen is too far
to get himself a glass of water, now windows down,

drums the dashboard, singing a 90s love song
in which the hero romances a debutant half his age.

Who bailed Papa out from the prison of grief
so quickly? Loneliness? Lunchtime sadness, the lack

of home cooked meals? Lust? But shouldn’t sex
have become a chore by now? The promising partner

is nothing like my mother. It’s not like she’ll be your mother,
he’d consoled me, mid-song. I want to like her, her

cheap jasmine perfume. I want this to end. And it does.
She’s not into him or he doesn’t consider her pretty

enough. We leave. And I wonder, adjusting the rear view
after he too leaves me, how will I meet my eyes knowing

I wanted today, far more than love, for him to be alone.
For nobody to take my mother’s side of the bed. No,

I will bury deep such thoughts and as if memory is
a ploughable sandbed, I will manipulate mine to remember

my father not as my father but a sad boy in tow who pursued
singing as we returned, his feet thumping and fingers tapping

the edge of my shoulder, urging me to sing along. Forging
music with whatever would yield within an arm’s length.