When my younger sister said our father didn’t love us,
I paused. To struggle for decades
with whether I am lovable. And not know. To see him
as part of that story, his being there but not
when you needed him most, his willingness
to sell me, the non-custodial daughter, out.
Something to prove to his wife
about devotion, the degrees love flows in.
But when my sister said he didn’t love us
I could see I’d taken love as given. The weak
love, the undefended love, the second-best love.
And I thought of the places
he’d taken me–especially as a young child,
an elementary school kid. The swimming holes,
beaches in Massachusetts and Maine--
Horseneck with its plovers and undertow
and rumors of horseshoe crabs and actual biting horseflies.
Nantucket once with my grandma–we left early in the morning--
I slept in the car on the way and when we got there,
in the shops, studied pictures of gulls on grey
posts in the water. When I was a little older
he’d take me and a friend to an annual Masonic festival–
hot dogs and booths with games and friendly people wandering the grounds--
until he remarried–and like the women who became chattel
upon marrying one hundred and fifty years ago–no longer could.
So I’m going with love–those long-ago outings I visit to feel it,
how he says the words, especially if you say them first.
© 2020 Ann Tweedy
Bio: Ann Tweedy's first full length book, The Body's Alphabet, was published by
Headmistress Press an earned a Bisexual Book Award in Poetry and was also a
finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and for a Golden Crown Literary Society
Award. She also has published two chapbooks, the first of which is being reissued
by Seven Kitchens Press later this year. Her hybrid chapbook, A Registry of Survival,
is also forthcoming from Last Word Press. An attorney by day, she has devoted
her career to serving Native Tribes, and she recently moved from Washington
to South Dakota to join the faculty at University of South Dakota School of Law.