Across the table, you eat
your meal and half of mine,
speaking nonsense syllables
to find the years we have lost;
I have found them in my mouth
as old, regretted words
we claim we have forgotten.

I know your father,
my grandfather, would come home,
lay you across his bed
to swing the thick leather down,
burning your skin
half as much as your memory.
His smell of tobacco and liquor
were the seal on your promise
to be a father unlike him.

You never broke it,
though I do not tell you.
The words sit in my mouth
filled with pancakes.
We leave
two empty plates on the table.

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