He left

no forwarding address,
sent no word, Christmas or birthday gifts;
each year a space on the mantle-shelf
where cards closed ranks.
I should have liked a doll, a necklace,
wax crayons, some small thing …
just to say my Daddy gave me this.

He never knew the size of my shoe,
colour of my hair, or if I was good at games;
never saw the sadness of stooped shoulders,
heard the silence of my stoical tongue.
How could he not imagine my river of hot tears
dammed inside?

Growing up, every time I saw a man
of a certain age, I would wonder …
a white bruise rising.

Denise Bennett