Reading Your Father's Obituary

Reading Your Father's Obituary

A Poem by Marie Anzalone

translated from my original in Spanish



Your father has died…

four months ago. Nobody

in the family bothered

to pick up a phone,

send a text. You find out

by accident. They were thorough

in their hate of you-

they erased you, your cousin,

a mother, grandmother,

and two wives- from the

family history. None of you

mattered enough to appear

in an obituary.

There are ways one is

supposed to feel

when a parent dies- gratitude,

for bringing you into the world,

feeding you, the 8 years he tried

to act like a parent to you

husband to your mother.

He taught you to look

through a camera lens,

carry a backpack, identify

a bird. This you take with you.

This you can say, thank you, for.


He also taught you:

terror. loss. violence.

how to steer a car when your

parent is drunk. broken promises.

that you are not worth investing in.

to choose lovers who will abandon you

in small and large ways, to choose

partners who cannot be depended

on to be there tomorrow.

These are things you must work on.

He taught you to defend the voiceless

because they were also

his favorite target. Maybe you fight

a little more than you could,

because you know how it feels

when nobody is fighting,

to keep you.


Go if you want, they all say.

You stop and wonder, how

are you supposed to feel

when a parent dies?

What if that parent was not worth

your tears, and you cry,

anyway? Oh how you long

to hear those magic words

you matter, you matter,

you matter, you matter-

I want you here

I am here

You are not alone.

It is after his death, you realize

why you abandon yourself

so much, so very much,

loving so much, so very much

men who you fear,

deep down, will see your flaws-

you will wake up one day

and realize that they, too

always loved someone or

something more, than

the unlovable you, they taught

you, you are.

Your father’s legacy

is the way you rose to prove

to the world, you are worth

being loved, needing love,

asking to be loved.

The tragedy is, you had to learn

all of that, on your own.

© 2023 Marie Anzalone

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Added on January 25, 2023
Last Updated on January 25, 2023


Marie Anzalone
Marie Anzalone

Xecaracoj, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

Bilingual (English and Spanish) poet, essayist, novelist, grant writer, editor, and technical writer working in Central America. "A poet's work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to ta.. more..