When You Ask Me to Tell You About My Father

What’s left is the myth of him, the words we use, scrawled symbols

to remind us he was there. A jumble of body parts: skinny legs, a lap,

eyes that were not his without the glasses that left permanent dents

on his Christmas bulb nose, and if he was the heart of us, he turned

into a broken heart too full for its cage. A broken everything—left

shoulder, right hip that would not stop him walking. He had a high

threshold for pain, though his mind was drowning in it, a river pouring

through the doors, and anybody close would have to get a little wet.

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Pauletta Hansel is the author of six poetry collections, including Palindrome (Dos Madres Press, 2017), written in response to her mother’s dementia. Hansel is Cincinnati’s first Poet Laureate (2016-2018) and is co-editor of Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, the literary publication of Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative.

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