When you give birth to a daughter
You can’t help but think, one day
I’ll walk her down a church aisle
She, in a white wedding dress
Me, with a single flower pinned to my lapel
And her arm tucked in mine;
The two of us sharing
One last stroll
Before I have to let go
And give her away to that grinning guy:
Life alters dreams
The aisle becomes an outdoor pavilion
The dress, ivory lace
The father is not me, but the man who
Married my widow
And raised my daughter from age twelve
as his own.
She called him “so sad” when he pitched a tent
At Watermelon Park, and she had to redo it.
He sat through endless Harry Potter movies
And read all six books
so he could talk about them with her;
Sprinkled her with the cold water of reality
When she finished the program that turned her life around;
Taught her to drive,
Comforted her after a fender-bender.
She gave him a yellow bag for his work gear
With the letters B-I-R-M sewn on the side for
Big Important Railroad Man.
He paid for the wedding
By hours spent in rail yards, being woken up
at two a.m. by dispatchers looking for crews,
Driving in the dark to do night checks,
Pulling his vehicle off on side roads to
Sleep in his clothes.
He knows being Father of the Bride
Is more than just writing checks,
That this moment
Only comes once, if at all.
So when the music begins,
And the seated guests by the L-O-V-E sign
Rise for the bride, he’ll be by her side.
She’s nervous now, and I see
he calms her like I would, with laughter
Kisses her cheek when she offers it
Like I would, and then
Tells her something I can’ t hear –
It’s meant only for the two of them.
For Martin Cross (1954-1998) and Curtis Brookshire