November 17th

November 17th

It is my father’s birthday. I call him but he doesn’t answer the phone.

I call again, again, until my mother answers.

He’s not one who likes answering the phone

Especially when he’s perusing a box of chocolates.

 

I call again, again, until my father’s face pops up on my screen.

He’s in his 70s, these years a fragile grace tethering us together

It’s why I sent him a box of chocolates.

The number 17 is always about how well he loves me.

 

He’s in his 70s, every year he calls me on my birthday to sing

Happy Birthday in his beautiful voice, my heart aching within his melody.

November 17 is his birth date, a joyful number because he loves me well.

Do you have love like that? Someone who lights up when you walk into a room?

 

He sings Happy Birthday to family members, our hearts leaping with joy.

Our soft selves are safe with him, this puzzle-maker who likes to sharpen pencils.

Do you have someone who loves you well, who lights up when you walk in a room?

Find them, their flaws will fade next to a face opening to welcome you.

 

Your soft heart will be safe with him, a puzzle-maker who likes to sharpen pencils.

His sweet tooth seeking satisfaction in a box of chocolates.

See him: his flaws not visible on my iPhone screen, his face lit up in welcome

It is my father’s birthday. I call him until my mom answers the phone.

-Nancy Schatz Alton

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