Poetry 3rd Place – Literary LEO 2015

Being Picked Up by an 
Absent Father

by Allyson Majors

was like getting an empty present
At least it was the thought that counted

Walking through Jefferson Mall with a man
who tells me he still loves my mother
as we pass Foot Locker
is similar to hearing the score in a movie theater
because I wasn’t listening
I’m reminded by the awkwardness
that hugs my smile
because my parents’ eyes move
Like missing easy targets
their gazes wander off into limbo

On the phone my mother never says his name
“My daughter’s dad is on the way”
“Allyson’s father will take her”
“She’ll figure it out one day”

My mother’s next stop is graduate school
My father’s moves were never predicted
Mother wears a navy suit coat
Dad wears a black mesh shirt

Me, a seven-year-old girl, holds the hand of a man
who dances on intimate stages
“Stay right here,” he says
He lets go of my hand
and I lose parental guidance
my legs are getting lazy
As I center the busy walkway
where plastic Hollister manikins mock me
and complete families in Payless look happy
He chases loose single ladies
who look nothing like my mother
Their unfinished dresses leave spaces
for imagination to fill in
Cheap JC Penny push-up bras
squeeze their back fat
Their painted faces brighten up
as he pleads for their attention
He remembers my name
and orders me to give promotional flyers
to these strange women
Their rainbow claws grab each item I pass out
without seeing me
Invisible, I glance down
at the colorful flyers
I see on the front
my shirtless father dressed
in green & black motorcycling gear
On the top of the flyer
The headline says
Dark Angel’s Big Showcase
227 East Market Street,
Drinks Free
for the Ladies.