Creation Myth: 1938
My father lived in a seedy hotel
on a downtown sidestreet
in the shadow of the Fox movie palace.
Didn’t see much of him--didn’t much care.
Back then, with a child’s crude arithmetic,
I figured if he were a good father
we wouldn’t be living in foster homes.
Every year, in elementary school
as Father’s Day drew near
we would write letters to our fathers--
meant, I suppose, be handed over.
My work went undelivered.
Which was fortunate since
my immigrant father couldn’t read.
I had the vocabulary down pat,
knew what the recipe called for:
a dash of “devotion” and “gratitude,”
a sprinkle of “sincere” for good measure
plus a poignant phrase or two--
maybe a “How can I ever express”
or other such Hallmark seasoning.
Teachers praised my handiwork,
this private fantasy-fiction project.
At ten, I knew what would sell. Besides
in fancy, I could craft myself
into an ordinary kid-- like the others--
even if only on paper:
My personal creation myth.