Three Words to a Broken Heart

We all find ample notice
for our misdeeds and indescretions
yet we bind our hands
in the blood of our sins
because we just can’t stand
to forgive them.

My father told me it only takes
three words from your child
to break your heart;
“I hate you.”

I said it over and over
bound up in the silver wires
of my teenage rage,
lashing out to the people
I knew would still love me –
because at school,
I was busy being told by “friends”
that I was unlovable and unwelcome.

So I blamed him.

Somewhere in those memories
I had a logical explanation,
but now on the moores of
adulthood, I’ve forgotten them.
To denigrate my father
for his sins that had
nothing to do with me is the
worst sin I can hold now,
and yet I still hold it;

a gentle reminder that love
is greater than hurt, and
those “friends” who mired
my existence and knit
self-hatred into my bones
were nothing more than a test
for my father;

to have patience with me
and to continue to save me from
dark waters when I started to
drown in this internal pain;
because no matter how many times
I screamed

“I hate you!”

he stood fast and said, “I love you.”

as age wears into his skin,
and fades his eyes,
I can only pray he knows how sorry
I am, and that every day
I think about
the pain I put him through.

I hope he knows that even while
I hid in my closet,
burying myself in the safety of mothballs and shadows,
away from my impending mental breakdown,
and screamed “I hate you,”
that I was begging for him
to keep loving me like he always had, because he was all
I could ever count on for
stability and rationality.

Despite making my father cry – he never cried – he stood strong and always kept me afloat, even – I realize now – at his own expense.

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