My father

Featured Artwork: ‘Hand Studies Charcoal’ by Matt Mozgiel

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is meticulous

lithe fingers cupping my cheeks

toned from a thousand hours in latex gloves

quivering with concentration and intent

working tirelessly to come home to his daughter

who’d barrel into his fatigued arms

and the exhaustion would evaporate

is gentle

a sleeve darkened with a hundred of his daughter’s tears

wiped away with more precision than 

the most fragile mechanical parts were handled with

an encouraging smile and 

an hour-long piggy-back ride

and she’d remember she could fly

is flawed

the first time I saw him cry

pulling off his bronze-rimmed glasses 

to wipe the dew off with a napkin

it looked like he had just aged a decade

crow’s feet from frequent smiling

resembled a tree’s rings

memories I hated etched in bark

a bite of my lip, my own guilt

his wounds made me almost regret

but I had meant every word I said that night

hurled like boulders

pierced like a thistle

all the 2 am’s he spent in the lab

couldn’t work away the unrest

the humming of the motor

the radio on the drive home

ensuring never a moment of deafening silence

couldn’t drown out the voices, unsettled and pained

the skilled engineer he had become

couldn’t mend the broken family he had raised

 

his fingers a calloused caress

a light brush on the shoulder

weighed down with a million overdue apologies

I can’t think of a thing to say

a momentary glance, rivers as eyes

and I know I don’t have to say a word

 

he gets up, leaving

the room suddenly cold

 

Wait,

I want to call out

Wait.

 

I’m not ready for this moment to be over.

jessica liu

Jessica is a freshman in college, studying mathematics and creative writing. She is a reporter for her university's student-run newspaper, the University Times, and her words have been featured in the Los Angeles Times and Overachiever Magazine. In her free time, she likes tending to her (honestly excessive amount of) houseplants, and making really good turkey, fig and brie sandwiches.

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