A Motherless Day on West Seventh Street in 1969

Michael Brockley

A vase with three wilted lilies sits off-center on the table in the dining room where my father trembles as he says, “You’re the most worthless son.” He shakes his fists at the disappointment that repulses him. He raises his voice. “Twenty-one years old and you can’t start a lawnmower. Or build a sandbox.” I am the fool who lost his last-chance job at the fiberglass insulation plant. A bowl of dusty Butterscotch candies rests at the far end of the table. My breath tastes sour. Neither of us has brushed his teeth. I stand before my father’s prediction. “You’ll never amount to anything much more than a ditch digger.” A Pomeranian with an overbite worries itself at our feet. Sunlight prisms my eyes from the east windows. Pimpling my face with another dose of shame. I see how rage clenches my father’s eyes into ruthless squints. He says, “You wet your bed for eighteen years. You killed your mother.”And once again my father restrains himself from blackening my eye or breaking my nose. Maybe with the last vestiges of love. 

Michael Brockley

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