The child I was had
long blonde hair (combing optional)
freckles that multiplied in the summer
dirty fingernails from playing in the mud
scabs on her knees and elbows
baby dolls and a green bicycle and a room of her own at the top of the stairs
a grandmother who taught her to sew
a grandfather who taught her to hammer
a mother that loved her with all that she had in her
and a daddy-sized hole in her heart

divorce wasn’t talked about
support groups for single moms didn’t exist
and unfeeling teachers forced me
to make cards for Father’s Day
filled with words of love for a man I didn’t know
cards I wanted to save for someday
when I met him
cards I would throw in the garbage
on the way home from school
before my mother could find them

long before I learned about genetics
I wondered what parts of him
made up what parts of me
and why just being me
was never enough

when people ask me how I came to be a writer
I often tell them it’s because I had no father
and all my life I’ve been making up stories about who is
and why he never came back for me
pretending he was off adventuring
pretending he would someday return to claim me
righting my upside-down world
pretending anything
was easier than accepting that maybe
he was never coming back
because he never wanted me at all

the child I was
wanted so much to believe
that anything was possible
that all fathers love their daughters
that all families belong together
but fairy tales don’t often come true
and little girls grow up to learn
that some holes are best left alone
before they swallow you whole
and you lose yourself
to what you never knew
and forget
who you have become

@copyright Susan Taylor Brown 2010
All Rights Reserved