What’s Left Unspoken by Jacqueline Jules

What’s Left Unspoken

Years ago, I sat with my father
on a varnished bench with iron arms,
watching him pull a frayed white hanky
from his breast pocket.

“You have your own life,” he said,
dabbing eyes the color of the stained
tile on the station floor.

“The way it should be.”

I patted his knee and picked up
the suitcase he was too frail to carry.

We walked to an empty platform
where a uniformed man helped him climb
three metal stairs and hobble aboard
a train headed west.

I promised myself to phone
and visit more often.

Today, I wave goodbye to my son
and his pregnant wife as they board
a crowded train headed east.

I hear my father’s brittle voice
as they wave from the window
mouthing promises
they cannot keep.

*

Jacqueline Jules is the author of Manna in the Morning (Kelsay Books, 2021) and Itzhak Perlman’s Broken String, winner of the 2016 Helen Kay Chapbook Prize from Evening Street Press. Her poetry has appeared in over 100 publications including One Art, The Broome Review, Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Hospital Drive, and Imitation Fruit. Visit her online www.jacquelinejules.com