A Prose Poem by Chelene Knight
Read "I didn't have a father"
I didn’t have a father. The one time I went to his house, I knew I didn’t fit there. The carpet hugged the space between my toes. So many stairs. Down, up, down again. Never-ending stairs. His son and daughter had their own rooms. His wife had short hair. The kitchen table held large dishes of corn, potatoes, tandoori-style chicken. I was drawn to serving spoons, their largeness, what they could hold—what they could dump out. One spoon had a plastic black handle. The other, metal. I wanted those spoons.
I sat across from my father. My half-brother to my left, my half-sister to my right. I was in the middle even though I was on the outside, and older. They were more interested in each other than in me. Bobbed and weaved around me while they laughed and whispered in each other’s ears. They knew he didn’t want me there. I watched my father eat. I was young. His mouth and nose matched mine. He held his fork with a firm grip. His knuckles white. We reached for the pepper at the same time. I looked down at my plate until he was done. Pepper was my favourite. His too. Both our plates covered in black specks.
No one asked me about school, or friends, or writing, or home. No one asked me about home. I didn’t know how I got there, to this house built not for me. I wanted to take the bus, sit at the back, open the window, and let the wind bury my face in my hands, never go back there.
Instead, I slept in the basement on an L-shaped couch. Surrounded by boxes, old exercise equipment, and items to be discarded labelled “Barely yard sale worthy.” My eyes held the ceiling up all night.
“One day I will teach you to drive,” he said. Two and a half decades pass.
I never got my licence but I have two large serving spoons in my kitchen drawer.
From Dear Current Occupant, printed with permission from Book*hug Press. Copyright © 2018 by Chelene Knight.