On the Day My Father Died, I Forgot to Say ‘I Love You’ by Amber Decker

There is always something predatory
thrashing in the dark, the rattlesnake
in its flimsy cage, bodies
of white mice lost
in its boneless coil.
Outside, the rain gathers
like men in gray robes;
the river swells like a corpse,
and the moon is a knife
cutting apart the clouds.
I listen to you put your son to bed
in the next room, hear you say goodnight
the way that fathers do
not often enough.
A moment of silence, and I wonder
if you lean down to kiss his forehead
or fuss with the blankets like you do
when we lay down side by side,
and you clutch me
like something bulletproof,
so close that your heartbeat
feels like an army of black horses
thundering down my spine.
What I want to say is
I love you.
What I actually say is
This is fine.
What I know is
there are too many wolves
in short, black dresses
howling outside this locked door,
and there are too many
loaded guns that fill the night
with their treacherous music.
Someday, my memory
will be an abandoned lifeboat
that was never strong enough
to save one blessed thing.
Clouds empty, rivers fill.
Fatherless daughters
want to seem fearless,
even after they’ve drowned.

AmberDecker_photo

Amber Decker is a thirty-something poet and musician from West Virginia. She is a lover of comic books, horror culture, good wine, tattoos, and rock and roll. Her latest collection of poems, The Girl Who Left You, is available from California’s notorious Six Ft. Swells Press.

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