My childhood sounded like Jim Croce
on a Sunday. Leroy Brown waved his diamond rings
and took to fighting while we ate bagels and lox.
My dad sang along, his wobbly voice
earnest, honest, embarrassed. He knew all of the words
and none of the notes.
I read the comics, feet on the radiator on cold winter mornings.
Dad got the sports pages. Mom did the crossword.
My hair stuck up funny from sleeping.
My father had everything
he wanted. Silky ties and shiny cufflinks for the office,
folk songs and football on the weekends, and his girls -
a wife and daughter to adore- waiting for him in the evenings.
He had the kind of album they don’t make anymore,
one that tells a story if you listen to it in order.
It plays a ranch house with a willow tree in the yard.
Corporate picnics, summer barbecues, long commutes and family dinners,
wrapped in a sleeve blue as a suburban sky.
If my dad had turned that record over
and listened to the other side, he would have heard
the last song. The one that cancer sings:
too many cymbals and not enough harmony.
Louder and louder, until we secretly
longed for it to end. Then it did
and we wanted to listen forever.
Jim Croce died at 32. My father
died at 70. I’m almost
50. This record player
is broken. The music ends
but the record keeps on spinning,
making no sound at all.
Amy Forstadt’s poetry and fiction has appeared in Green Briar Review, Heavy Feather Review, Your Impossible Voice, Entropy and Pif among others. Additional writing credits include Disney Online Originals, Nickelodeon, The Hub, and Animal Planet.
She lives in Los Angeles with her fiancé, son, and one cat too many.