I Used To Take Walks With My Father

I used to take walks with my father.

It was an uninterrupted time.
Before emails and cell phones and separation.
Before complicated conversations, more than 3,000miles apart
About how next year is a better time to come and visit.

He would hold my hand, around the block.
Cherry Street, where it curves, and we pass by the neighbor’s home with the high gate.
The dogs hear us chatting and they’d bark
Then my soul felt like it was in danger.
Because I was six.

I would keep walking with my father
Who held my hand and kept his stride.
He’d walk me past the gate, with the barking dogs
And talk to me through the noise.
Sometimes I couldn’t understand him
But I always knew his voice was there.

Our conversation would change after the gate.
After the barking dogs, we had to talk about something new.
Tangent and unrelated, but still very important.
I would hear the crickets again
Singing from the thickness of the untamed grass
Those sounds could only reach my ears a certain way
Because I was at the height and age to listen.

He smoked in the evenings
With cigarette in farthest hand
I can’t remember if the smoke ever reached me
Anything on the other side of him
Couldn’t hurt me
He might have even paused on his answers, to exhale
But it’s hard to notice that when you’re next to a moving tower.

It was easier to love my father because
He didn’t correct me.
I didn’t have to grow up under his rules
Our only restriction was distance, occasional pride and politics
Would my decisions have been different
If we walked a few more times
And I told him new stories
Through the noise of dogs in my adolescence?

Maybe it is better we fell short
That I don’t have opportunity to outgrow the evening walks
Avoiding the charge-off, that it was a waste of time and breath
And step and wisdom
I’d rather have memories cut off at six
Than extend them with images of my trying to escape his presence at sixteen.

Now that I’m older
Walks are still special
Uninterrupted talking time
To stay close to the ground, every step a clearing experience.
Maybe it’s because I’m a Virgo or some earth sign explanation.
Maybe because it’s a time I can talk to God
And still feel like I’m going somewhere.
I mold this to my understanding
That this fragmented memoir
Is infused with love and acceptance

Because I am at the strength and age to write it.

“My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” Psalm 45:1

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