Because I do not know my father’s name,
I will not search for him in any records.
I will not run my fingers down a page
of Births and shout ‘Eureka!’ when I find
his name because I have no name to find.
The Register of Marriages will stay
unopened on its shelf. Page after page
of Deaths will not be touched by trembling hands.
I will not celebrate his birth. I will
not find his grave and leave fresh flowers there.
I will not pay my last respects or say
a silent graveside prayer. If here is where
I always am, then he will always be
elsewhere: beyond my reach; beyond my grasp.
Because I will not ever find my father,
instead, I search for traces he has left;
the traces which have skipped a generation;
the traces which have landed in my sons,
all five of them. One time, when they were growing up,
I lined them up like Russian dolls, and somehow,
a minor miracle, they stood still long
enough for Gem to take a photograph:
each one a different shade of someone else;
alike, and yet not so alike, the way
that families often are. They stand forever,
caught in that moment: one, two, three, four, five;
my father’s flesh and blood; my father’s grandsons.
Which one of them, I think, looks most like him?
My five beautiful boys, who say to me,
and always did: do not look back, look forward,
at us, the healers of your saddened heart.
Although you never knew your father’s love,
you know the same cannot be said of us.