The Light of Day

for Leiha


My daughter loves to hear the tale
of her father and I—
when we were still together,
just kids, really,
twenty-two and twenty-three—

out riding his Harley at two in the morning
past cornfields and meadows.

We were lightning; we were wildfire.

I don’t know how he saw that pumpkin patch
as we blared by, but he doubled back
and chugged to a stop on the shoulder,
told me, hop off and pick one,
but I said no, I wasn’t a thief.
He persisted—
I could never resist him for long back then.

My daughter loves to hear that he had me choose
the biggest pumpkin, just for her.
How we thundered home,
my arms barely able to hold her giant prize.

How she and her daddy carved it together the next day
on the old green table in the kitchen–
gave it wild eyes and a silly smile,
he let her draw with a fat black marker.

How they put a bright orange candle inside,
let it burn all night on the back porch.


What I don’t tell her is how my head swam with fear
all the way home.
He was drunk, but how drunk, too drunk again?
What was I doing riding down the highway at 90 miles an hour—
no foot pegs; legs wrapped around him; numb
fingers clinging to his leathers;
a huge, stolen pumpkin on my lap?

Who would care for her if we made her an orphan
in an instant of asphalt and brains and pumpkin meat?

But I never uttered a word of this—
because the wind was in my hair,
because the moon shone on his shoulder,
because his hand was on my thigh,
because the scent of milk thistle was everywhere:

and the light of day was gaining on me.

–From Name Me, Fortunate Daughter Press, 2010

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