By Marian Glaser (July, 1996) ©
Loving you has
cleared debris blocking my internal channels
preventing me remembering and
making me feel again my father’s
my small soft one,
ripe blackberries among green leaves on curving vines,
thorns just missing the path beside the Rhine.
The sun shining on the water
made sailboats more visible and
illuminated wooden piers, flowers, trees,
waters wide expanse
as the river mouth got ready to empty
in the cold North Sea.
Later, I saw those hands throw coloured Easter eggs at the wall,
soup at the ceiling.
His anger at meals made me vomit over and over
into my dinner plate.
His fury smashed a dozen chairs,
leaving his children sitting on boards
suspended precariously between milk cans.
Flying fists demonstrated his violence,
not the religious belief he wanted us to have.
Before loving you
I could only remember the negatives.
Now I can see his paper boats
raced by us in the water filled gutters,
his paper airplanes in the air,
his orchids painted on the birthday calendars hung in the toilet,
his garden filled with gladioli, rhubarb, asparagus, tomatoes and
other flowers and vegetables,
our flat bicycle tubes he repaired,
the nails digging holes in our feet he hammered,
the walks, outings, rides.
His shout shook my hold on an apple tree,
making me fall on green grass,
longing for his arms to circle me.
He never came.
My scars took twenty years to fade.
His advent star glowed from October to Christmas.
He decorated the pine branches he hung,
grew our Christmas tree and
said every year that the turkey was dry.
He played monopoly with us,
put up badminton and table-tennis nets for us,
put up croquet hoops and
built bicycles from bits.
He had to use the skills
he’d acquired driving a Dutch war-time ambulance
to treat the sties, cuts, scrapes, bruises and fevers
his ten kids accumulated.
I learned to read sitting on his lap,
listened to him twisting fairy tales into jokes,
watched him hit the back of
his head to make his tongue pop out.
Pull dimes out of the ears. He assured me
vines or trees would root in if I swallowed a seed and
supplant me with a younger child.
He did not want to follow us into our own worlds
populated with people he had not approved of.
Before loving you
the violence had eclipsed
Now it shines.