Sometimes I feel guilty about using poetry as my therapy. It’s a certain kind of exhibition, masquerading all this pain in the catalyst of art. But what else do I do with these words? I don’t know if this poem will move past this blog, or if I’ll just let it rest here. I don’t know if this is me “becoming the enemy instead of making peace with it”. Maybe I’ll hold back the truest pieces for myself, and God, and who they’re really meant for. Regardless, it’s my truth, and here goes:

Dad,

This week you gave me a story you wrote. To edit, you said. And I’m still reeling from the backhanded slap into the past you just dealt me. I gotta hand it to you, the element of surprise was pure artistry, and even as I devolve into the flaw of these rhymes and lines I hide behind, this much needed distance from the truth, like the one you orchestrate while re-writing our history into fiction. See, I’m trying to shield you from facts right now, and together we spiral down the rabbit hole that never seems to end, does it?

So here’s where the poem stops. Let’s have an end to it. In that story, you wrote about your ex, things I never knew and I was fascinated to see this whole new dimension of you, even to see the level of awe and reverence you gave Mom.¬† So then, you get to me and I’m all built up for some revelation. You say your ex brought you closer to God and Mom taught you devotion. What role did I play in your life?

Well, I was born with blond hair and blue eyes, and one time [lines cut out of respect that I don’t know if the recipients deserve, but it’s not about what they deserve, it’s about the respect I choose to show by cutting these lines] I spent the first fourteen years of my life as a puppet, a living doll, a hairdresser’s dummy, a show child, a talking, movable mannequin, a porcelain plaything, a living, breathing lie. I was a terrific actress, wasn’t I? In that Stepford daughter alter ego that you (and she–not you Mom!) forced me to be.

And even though I’ve long since resigned myself to the sad fact that the prototype is all [she] has ever wanted of the actual ME, at least I thought you and I were more than that. So this week, reading your story, knowing that my value as a daughter, as a human being, in your eyes, lies in the lies…Well, what do I even say to THAT, Dad?

I’m sorry for you? Furious with you? I’m here to declare that I cut those puppet strings long ago, and it’s no use trying to fit me back into that plastic pink Mattel packaging. My heart has grown too old and too brave to fit anymore. You and she have taught me that the ugliness of truth is preferable to your fiction.

But you’re sliding back into the glitter with her. Crawling in the cobwebs cluttered with¬† the pieces you and she invented. It makes me feel as though I’ve failed you, and any proud words I’ve spoken about how far we’ve come are sticking to me now, like spun silk. I won’t reinvent the truth, or even tell it in its entirety. Maybe because I’m like you, I’ll only remember from here on out the pieces I want to remember:

When I was three or four I played the drums while my dad sang Born to be Wild and played the guitar.

My dad taught me the right way to wash and wax a car.

Dad used to play kickball with us.

I used to watch Rambo and Westerns with my dad.

Dad’s the reason I know Dylan, Hendrix, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Zeppelin, Deep Blue, and Kansas.

I love hearing Dad’s stories about growing up in the 60’s and 70’s.

Dad always tells the best stories.

See, that wasn’t so hard. Was it?