Father’s Day
Stephanie Humphries

It’s strange sometimes

to hear my father’s words emerge.

To no one in particular I’ll say,

“Don’t worry—we’ve got it made in the shade!” or

“That person is nothing but a trifling piss ant.”

More phrases unuttered but not forgotten,

like photos stored only in the mind’s eye.

Drawn to train tracks,

it’s not nostalgia of travel that brings me there or

musings on Euclidean geometry

(sorrow for parallel life paths that never crossed my own).

Rather, it’s the strength, consistency, reassurance of trains.

I often wave to the engineer, knowing full well he is not my father,

but knowing, like my father,

he works long hours to deliver what is required,

then hurries home to where all the sacrifices make sense.

Odd, maybe, how I occasionally visit strangers’ graves.

I think about their lives, read their dates in the headstones.

They were someone’s child, possibly sibling, spouse, parent.

I leave them flowers of the type I wish I could give

those who have filled these roles in my own life

but are now too far-flung or departed.

Hoping that love given here or there is somehow passed along,

finding its way to those we hold in our hearts—

which is another way of saying memory.