The Living

A poem for Wednesday

A bent tree trunk in the sun
David Avazzadeh / Connected Archives

I was ten when I locked my father’s college ring
inside my dresser’s wooden drawer to hide  
his death from my friends who wanted to know  
how it happened. Now, the ring’s tissue-wrapped  
in a basement box mixed with family objects  
my daughter might one day choose to donate  
and I’ve said heart attack a thousand times and one.  
After thirty years of thinking, I don’t think  
my father didn’t love me. I’m not sure what the living  
understand about love. When my daughter grew
fearful of finishing third grade, she asked how
not to be afraid, so we blessed with our bravery
one of her forgotten rings she then wore to school
on the index finger she used to show me something
worth seeing, like the face she once found
among burls grown into the trunk of a bur oak.