The recordings he sent in 1945,

a year and a half before he held me

for the first time,

all end, “Do you love your daddy?

Sure you do, and daddy loves you”


Years later I still hear him

after his homecoming,

his voice not matching the man

who spoke so softly to me

from a warship in the Pacific,

the smiling sailor of photograph albums

in white uniform and bad eyeglasses,


not matching the man who threw me

back onto the mattress of my baby bed

as I screamed and struggled each time

the stranger tried to hold me,


the voice of the angry man shouting me

out of bed early on Saturday mornings

to wash storm windows until my fingers

turned white in November winds,

wet with vinegar, old rags and the craziness

he brought home in a sea bag

Now, an older man myself on an autumn morning,

I miss him, my daddy, sure I do,

a sailor, hat cocked to one side of his thinning hair,

the soothing voice he had

before he came home from the navy