Now you know yourself that’s what you were
as you drive up in your car to collect the rents.
Still afraid to meet your tenants, face to face,
I’ve spent years trying to erase the days
we’ve spent, at arm’s length, together.

Remember when I went with you to check the doors?
I turned each knob behind you like a shadow
with hands. I was only five then, and knew
you didn’t need me.

All I wanted was to be
tied to your heels like an abandoned dog.
Remember the time I asked you what would happen
if I went inside the men’s room with you?
You said the police would come
and take me away. For years
I wondered what went on inside. Finally,
when I caught my first glimpse

the urinals stood up straight against the wall
like a firing squad. They looked so cold
and lonely. I ran out fast
afraid God
was just two steps
behind me.

All these years
I thought someday
you’d teach me, a little
of what I dreamed
you knew. A morsel,
to get me started perhaps,
a crumb. Instead,
you grew fat with silence
like a woman in her ninth month.

My arms could wrap around the world twice
before they’d begin to reach you. Even now
when you sign your letters, “love
and hugs”, I don’t believe you. Still,

I ache inside
for mornings together. If only
I could catch you at your peak
when you sneak downstairs
in the loosening girdle of darkness
I’d come to you, out of years
of pinning down shadows

I’d beg you
to take me in
to that place
where all those doors
like arms fly open

into the safety
of what I imagine
could have been

– Published in Embers Marylou DiPietro