Donal Mahoney


Gift from a Daughter Who Disappeared


Your package arrived last night.
When my wife brought it in, I said,
'Make certain it's not ticking.'
It wasn't, so she opened it.
I grabbed the wedding pictures
without reading your letter

and saw you and your groom
graciously attired except for
the flannel pajama bottoms.
'My God, ' I yelled, 'they had
a Hare Krishna wedding! '
Not that there's anything
wrong with that.

My wife said your letter explains
why you wore pajama bottoms
over your wedding outfits-
to stay warm on a wintry day.
I should have guessed.

The package arrived late
so I felt it unfair to read your letter
when I wasn't at my best.
After all these years,
one more day in absentia
shouldn't be held against me.

Your letter looks long, ominous.
I would expect nothing less.
I asked my wife to read it
to see if any land mines lurk.
She said she saw none
but she wasn't at our Nagasaki
so she might have missed
some deft allusions.

I'm more careful these days
guarding the remnants.
On dark Tuesday mornings,
when I wheel the garbage cans out,
I make certain your brother isn't
on horseback at the curb,
scabbard unbuckled,
primed for another debate.
You were both so young.
He was a tyke who suffered
the fallout, not the conflagration.

You look good in the photos;
your new husband as well.
The priest looks the way
priests used to look.
He'd be good in old movies
standing in for Spencer or Bing.

You're a beautiful lady
as the pictures make clear.
Always were, always will be.
Please know it's difficult
after all these years to dodge
bombs of memory dropped
by what happened
and what never will be.

I promise to get back to you
about all that you've sent
and all that I haven't.
Some day we must
catalogue everything
in case a genealogist
is born into the family
generations hence
and wants to know
what we know.

Till then, much love.
Give my best to the groom.
Tell him pajamas at his wedding
are only the beginning.
A monocle or pince-nez is next.

Submitted: Thursday, October 31, 2013
Edited: Thursday, October 31, 2013

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