I do not know how many times my father hit
me with his hand or kicked my backside. Oh,
there is more than this to say about my father,
but this is the time to say he swung at me in
the backseat, a boy no more than eight, struck
glancing blows. I had laughed, it bothered him.
At thirteen, he sent an engraved, silver lighter
whizzing past my ear as I fled a growling anger,
imbedding in the solid wooden door, sticking
there instead of in my head. Fifteen, he struck
me with the back of his hand because I flinched
as he reached in his jacket, kicked the back of
my legs for infractions I could not comprehend.
He broke yardsticks on my back, swung his belt
at me after whipping it around his waist. Each
time he struck the impact reverberated through
the years. If the air is right, I feel the stinging on
my face or head, not all I have of Dad, but part.
Robert Pope has published a novel, Jack’s Universe, and a collection of stories, Private Acts. He has also published many stories and personal essays in journals, including Kenyon Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and Fiction International.