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Turns out my father is not a tree, after all

Valerie Fox

My father lived in five or six houses, growing up,

mainly in the same part of town.

My father was in the Navy and didn’t like to swim.

He got off the boat in Italy, Albania, and Algeria

during the war.

He was one of those sailors who would wave

around flags, a signalman.


My mother never had to defer to

my father about the little things.

She’s a real firecracker, a flare.

I wrote an obituary for my father

and my mother took out all the best parts.

My father hated fish and mayonnaise, apart and together.

He had Wednesdays off but had to work Saturdays.

He wasn’t much of a storyteller but liked to talk to the trees.

My father also enjoyed reading novels, especially by Russians,

in the order in which they were written.

In his last year he sat on a porch and looked out

at fields for much of his time.

My father never got to stay at many fancy hotels

but once, like the red-winged blackbird,

that snappy dresser,

he got to live by a pond.

Valerie Fox has published in numerous journals, including Juked, Ellipsis Zine, The Phare, Flash, Reflex, and The Café Irreal. Stories she has written have been included in the Best Small Fictions and Best Microfiction annuals. She published, The Real Sky, a hand-made collaborative artist’s book with visual artist Jacklynn Niemiec, in an edition of 26. Books include Insomniatic, The Rorschach Factory, and The Glass Book.

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