Monday, March 26, 2012

Papa Wrote

A poem by Daniel Olivas

The crowd at Tía Chucha’s
was sparse but smiling,
encouraging, waiting for
me to read a story or two.

I asked them to wait a few
minutes longer because my
father was late, and he had
promised to attend. And so
we waited in awkward
silence, the espresso
hissing offering the lone

And we waited,
and waited.

So we had to start. I opened
my book and read slowly,
assuredly, my words filling
these strangers’ minds.

Halfway through, the front
door creaked open and my
Papa nodded, found a chair
in back. I smiled and everyone
knew who this man was.

I finished the story,
a gentle clapping
the final punctuation.
Time for Q&A I said.
A young man raised
his hand, asked a kind
question, a softball,
easy to answer.

My father then stood,
hands behind his back,
as I noted to the audience
that this is the man I had
been waiting for.

And then Papa said:
“I used to write, too.”

The audience nodded,
smiled, not knowing
where this was going.
Beads of perspiration
covered my upper lip,
my face frozen with

“But it was trite,”
he continued.
“Nothing important.”
He waved his hand,
palm out, as if to
wipe away the past,
to make certain we

Papa paused, cleared
his throat. “Nothing
like what you write.”

“I wish I could read
your stories,” I said.

Softly, he answered:
“I burned them all.”
He smiled, without
sadness, and sat.

My Papa wrote, once,
long ago. He wrote
stories. Stories I will
never read. Stories I
will never know.

["Papa Wrote" appears in the unpublished collection, Crossing the Border.]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


your poem is very moving.