today, what it meant twenty years ago, when my dad rose
without saying anything and instead opened
my bedroom door to let the cold in, the light in
from the hallway. I know we like to think of ourselves
as better than our parents; we won’t be feeding our kids
any sugar, no TV after 8pm—we’ll eat dinner together
every night and say good morning, every morning, in the brightest
and most gentle of voices. Yet I know I’ll get so tired
of all that, and instead start my day with laundry down the block once
the laundromat opens, at six, thinking of chores and rhythm
and what needs to be done around the house. And I’ll get tired
too of packing lunches, and I’ll even forget to throw in
little notes that say that I’m thinking of them; but
did I ever read those notes from him, carefully, admire
the way his handwriting was a series of intimate loops
bending over backwards to say something, anything?
The first time I discovered he was human was when he misspelled
Halloween. Is there a way to tell someone I’m sorry,
I’m thinking of you, I love you, It will all be okay,
I’m only human, all at once, over an entire lifetime?
Brendan Bense is a poet and UC Irvine MFA candidate whose work can be found in Columbia Journal, The Crab Orchard Review, Rust + Moth, and elsewhere. Before joining the cohort at UCI, he worked as a writer and editor in New York and Philadelphia.
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