Laura Van Prooyen
As Always, Thirty Years Between Us

My father wants me to cut his hair

in the laundry room, where the rotary phone

still hangs on the wall. Here, I took

and made so many calls to boys

he disapproved of. This is an old story.

A father, daughter, half-regrets. I fold over

his ear the way he tells me to and trim.

Nothing’s left of the lush, black swoop

or sideburns he always wore. I buzz

the white crown and snip stray hairs

from the bald part of his head. He’s

nothing like the man whose empty

cans I used to find in the trunk

of the car. I wonder, now, how

many times he knew my secrets,

but didn’t say a word. No one

really can tell you how not to mess up

your life. When I was young,

I loved the winter nights, watching

my father grease fishing reels

at the kitchen table, cranking handles,

clicking spools shut. Summer was miles

away, but he took such pleasure

getting ready. Especially when it came

to sharpening his fillet knife. I leaned

my shoulder close to his, shut my eyes

to better hear him whisk

that blade across a wet, black stone.

Found In Volume 41, No. 05
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  • Laura Van Prooyen
Laura Van Prooyen
About the Author

Laura Van Prooyen is the author of Frances of the Wider Field (Lily Poetry Review Books), Our House Was on Fire (Ashland Poetry Press), and Inkblot and Altar (Pecan Grove Press, 2006).