OK, I'm sneaking this one under the wire, but I've been working on it for days. I'm still counting it as my first NaBloPoMo entry.
This is the first new poem in two months, still very raw, still needs a good scrubbing.
On the drive to the grocery store,
I listen to my father enunciate each letter,
add stress to every syllable of his favorite word.
He said if I learned a word-a-day,
I can do anything I want to do in life—
a simple solution for all of life’s hurts.
This from a man who spent his working life
in law enforcement. But at 8 years old,
all I wanted to do was be 9, keep my head down
and make it to 10. No reason
why a word related to personal effects
would affect him enough to translate
the language of what couldn’t be said.
My father, who never made it past grade 10,
learned early how to disguise misfortune for blessing.
So he proceeded to tap out the word on my knuckles
with his free hand, the other gripping tight to the steering wheel.
Is it too much to imagine he knew it was derived
from the word dowry, how this word is now my
personal property, now the bell in my head
that never ceases to ring? I never guessed
my father carried something so massive as to pass it to me.
Yet this is the only word he ever taught me, this legacy
I now claim as the wind in my throat.