Dad went to prison the year
I was in fourth grade. I never
believed it could happen. When
it did, at first I turned cold,
then numb. Inconsolable.
Mom was strong that day
we went to the jail to visit Dad,
to say our goodbyes. But somehow
I couldn’t speak to him through a glass
security window and microphone.
I thought my world had ended.
Life somehow went on,
but without happiness or hope.
Our aunts often invited us for dinner.
My teacher was kind and solicitous.
The principal called me to his office
for weekly chats, asked how I felt,
how the school kids treated me,
if I was keeping my grades up.
We weren’t allowed to see Dad
the first couple months he was in
the penitentiary; then could afford
to go visit him only twice a month.
My brother’s babyish antics upset me.
I hated the extra work, the unnaturally
quiet house, the loneliness. Hated Dad
for deserting us. Hated learning to lie.
first published in BEHIND PRISON WALLS Chapbook
©2011 Bonnie Manion