The National Catholic Review

Dear mother, I would like to clear up some things
about how you met my father because, let’s face it,
you don’t talk about it much. Perhaps I never asked,
but I’m asking now, so stop me if I’m wrong:

you met in a diner, and some weeks later, at a sock hop, I believe,
you danced with him, a slow bluesy number
performed by the school’s jazz band. I have always imagined
"Take the A Train" as the soundtrack to your young love,
but this detail most likely reveals more about my tastes
in big band numbers than it does about the night in question.

When the music stopped, he brought you a cup of punch then sat
with you outside as stars sugared themselves across the sky.
Later, he took you home, careful your pleated skirt was inside
the car before shutting the door. While driving, he told you

he’d have his own store someday, and when he thought he was talking
too much, he turned on the radio and sat quietly,
his hand on your shoulder, soft as a leaf. And that is where
my second-hand memory ends, as perhaps it should,
with you in a car, your hands folded into your lap,
my father listening carefully as you offered directions home.

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