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Robert Draper, Jr. and Sr.

by Sara Blaisdell

My own father slouches up to my apartment door
And asks me to dinner at Jake’s Grill,
Says he wants to be friends.

We get to Jake’s
The waitresses are rushing around in ponytails and ties.
My father fingers the sugar packets.

He sips at his wine as if it’s the first alcohol he’s tasted all day.
It might be true.
He breathes lines at me about my baseball games, my sister’s

All the things he’s lost and wants to find.
The past shouldn’t matter. Things happen.
He loves us now, “more than ever,”

Wants to apologize to “our mother,”
Wants to pay the debt he’s sort of acquired.
There’s a special place (he holds his heart), a special place for her,
for us.

I have to get up and walk home, and leave him there staring
At the ugly rare meat, at the wine,
At the sugar packs he smooths with the flats of his thumbs.

The messages, when I get home, are all from him,
On his cell phone.
Breathing, hanging up, breathing with a sickness I can’t name.