Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Poem: So Many Things I Wish I Had Done

So Many Things I Wish I Had Done

So many things I wish I had done, so many things I wish
I had said, all those words
that could have comforted
but that I withheld,
so now even so many years after my father’s death
I wish I could call him back
from inside the mausoleum drawer at Calvary Cemetery,
reach him through all that steel and metal,
tell him how now that my own children are grown
and have children of their own, 
how much he taught me about how to love,
how to forgive even the sharpest words
hurled in anger,
even the biggest betrayals,
I want to thank him for understanding 
how much I would regret my cruel and thoughtless words,
how even sixty years after I called him disgusting
for drinking his coffee from a saucer
as all the immigrant Italians did,
that I can still see his eyes,
the pain in them,
though he did not yell or grow angry.
He grew quiet instead
pretending he did not understand
that I wanted that middle-class father
he could never be.
I imagine I can sit with him once again
in his crowded little living room,
he, in his brown recliner from Medicare, 
I, in the chair next to him, 
and I would hold his hand.

by Maria Mazziotti Gillan

Maria Mazziotti Gillan's most recent books are the poetry and photography collection, Paterson Light and Shadow and the poetry collection, What Blooms in Winter. Her collection of poems paired with some of her paintings is The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets. Her artist's website is and her poetry website is

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