Abandoned Anniversary
by David Bowles

Twenty-eight years later
And your face is blurred
By the darkened glass
Of hardship and oblivion,
Save for flashes in the features of my brother,
Whose soul you dragged away.

Twenty-eight years later
And your voice is mere harmonics
Skittering through my songs and poems,
Stripped of accent and con-man smarm,
Undertones in the deepening laugh
Of my son, whom you'll never know.

Twenty-eight years later
And you've become a shadowy bulk
That slinks into nightmares
Like you did that last morning
Retrieving your belt buckle from my room
As if taking my name, my birthright.

Twenty-eight years later
And I can remember with indelible clarity
The sight of my mother in the breezeway
When I rode my bike up to the complex,
Her face red and haggard from weeping,
Certain you were gone for good.

Twenty-eight years later
And the overwhelming silence of abandonment
Still looms bleakly in sealed-off,
Empty halls of my heart,
Those dusty and unused chambers
That once belonged to a father.

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