When I was in fourth grade, my life turned upside down. I went from living a sheltered life to having a piece of my family ripped away from me. My dad, that year, was diagnosed with cancer. He underwent two stem cell transplants and the needs piled up as time went on. Soon, it grew to be months without seeing my dad. At as young as 10 years old, the kind of worry that accompanies the fear of losing a loved one is astounding. Alongside this, I became overly protective of my younger sister, often having to take care of her as my mom and dad did. As a result, I matured quickly. “Blueberries & Bliss” represents that time in my life and everything I wish I had said to my dad when he needed it most.
[Read Related: A Poem for Father’s Day]
Blueberries & Bliss
Blueberries in the backseat, my oldest memory
Dripping down my chin like that sickly sweet juice.
You didn’t click your tongue. You chuckled instead,
Supplying napkins before I asked for them.
Every time I turn around, you’re there.
Watching. Just there. It’s enough.
When your smile shimmers the sand mid-morning,
The bite of each day—
Moon crater eyes, calendar spilling over—
Spirals away with the tides.
Mom shares the scoldings of her life,
Her teeth dimes in her overflowing, penniless, mouth.
We know her story, dad,
But I know you.
You’re buried in the crystals; visible but locked away.
And when I’m submerged in lapis and salt,
You’re there for me. You always hear me.
Is the sand breaking apart and drifting away?
The sickly sweetness burns your mouth with guilt.
The waves find the shoreline even as sand shifts and sifts.
My beach stays warm in summer, breeze facing
East, wind-whipped hair. Hands tinged
Yellow, angelic; what magic is waiting beneath the ocean floor?
Your beach turns frigid as the snow falls.
Corners of salt and sand lift
To sunken mouth; what happens when ice clouds the water?
Is it too late to ask if you’re okay?
You don’t have to fight alone.
Because every seed
Sprouts in time; Dad, you’ll flower
With me by your side.