Meeting My Father?

My boy heart pounds,
palms clammy, moist,
mind racing at speeds past time.
I sit stoic, still, like a good
child in my mind,
as I imagine cultivated well-mannered
people behave.
I want to be perfect for him,
buttoned my shirt to the top,
as I’d seen boys walking out of churches,
tied my shoes loop swoop,
no bunny ears—
my crisp gelled hair cracks and crunches
when I move, I brushed it to the side
like lawyers in tv shows.

The car moves fast like the river—
too fast, I’m not ready;
look down at my hands,
let out a silent scream,
one quarter of my left index finger nail is dirty.
place my finger in my mouth and clean
the grime from under my nail,
I put hand in mouth—
“Don’t bite your nails.”
My mom’s voice echoes in my mind.

The car stops.
We arrive too soon.
I look at the house and pull the door
handle, step into the unknown,
of a place I’d always dreamed.

A man walks out of the door,
the snakeskin cowboy boots disappoint,
but I tell myself I love them.
I could be a cowboy too.
He turns, his curly mullet
is longer than I’d imagined.
But none of that matters.

I can’t take it any longer,
I run up and hug him,
“Daddy,” I let out.

“No it’s your Uncle Dave,
Your dad’s not here.”

Steven Babin holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature from the Ohio State University, and a Law Degree from the University of Pennsylvania. One in each hand. He carries them everywhere. Steven lives with his family, and works in Columbus, Ohio. His work will be featured in Spark: A Creative Anthology; After the Pause; Rust & Nail; Boston Literary Review; Bop Dead City; and Decades Review.