Reading My Father

By on Oct 11, 2020 in Poetry

Son and father superimposed over book

By December with your death not yet a habit,
a box of books arrives that you asked
my sister to pack up for me. On the top

I pull out Raccontini Italiani, open to the dedication
page, notes scrawled in Italian
in your curly cursive, the blue ink
of a felt tip pen now faded. I placed

distance between us that last year, not prepared to let
what was happening to you reach me, just
allowing bits and pieces in, closed
my eyes to things I could not look at head-on, controlling
the itinerary of my visits to Pittsburgh. The catalog

of emotion from your last year disappeared when you died
in early August. Even now I shed the weight
of those memories to live in the present.

I confess I lived a life close off
to you, covered up in my silence, and now would
do anything to replay those years. If only
I had known how to trust
you, coming of age in those Reagan
years, free in the white space to be out far
away from that childhood in rural PA. I suppose

there is never a sense of coming back
to a father, no anchorages. Unpacking this box
on the desk, I hold your favorite books again

in my hands that are now the last of you. I read lines until
I hear your voice as it was in life, leaf through the margins of dog-eared
pages, underlined passages where you penciled
in my name, and I recover you one notation at a time.


Anthony Botti's poetry has appeared recently in Comstock Review, The MacGuffin, Cider Press Review, Caveat Lector, Clark Street Review, Old Red Kimono, Tiger’s Eye, The Rockford Review, and Peregrine. He lives in Boston with his partner and their pug, Ernie, where he works in health care management at Harvard University.