Oona O’Neill 2010
That was the year I never
saw, or even thought to see, my father.
That was the year the gems I wore
were stolen while I was watching Jersey Shore,
along with my iPod, camera, and a $400 pair of shoes.
That was the year he paid his dues.
Even now I long to watch him write that check
time and again, sign it, watch him empty the book,
the pen, so many checks does he have to write,
as even now I might head out again into a night
ensigned with city lights, mine, and leave him written out.
That was the year I lost my doubt,
if only for that little while. The pillowcase
that took my tears, that emerald dress
I almost tripped on, running up those stairs,
are thread by thread undone these many missing years.
The remains of the daydream stain me still.
Zebra-striped dragonflies low over Cedar Hill
on a sun-candoured, stunned late summer afternoon
just where he’d lain with her that one spring night, under the moon—
that girl I’ll never love, but whom he loved—
then drove us down to the beach house, gone,
my head on his shoulder, goodnight moon,
all of us thinking we each would never leave.
I know he carries that weight, the heft
of my heavy little girl’s head, the warm
wash of my sleeping, inkblack hair.
That moon he misbegot us under turns
its black face away from the moonlit room
in which he sits, and writes, and never learns.
It’s all I can do to leave him there.