“What We Talk About When We Talk About Father Rucker” by Cheryl Buchanan
Kim says, It’s like I’m still suspended,
when Jenny asks her to recite it.
Each year it’s harder to believe.
Which doesn’t mean they can’t remember.
Leigh keeps talking about horses, their wide
infantile eyes. Kim brings old photos,
where even grown-ups look so starchy,
squeaky clean. Like those school uniforms
he stuck his hands up while he talked
of disconnected things, like your dead dog
or first lost tooth, and like he wasn’t
really there, or like his fingers weren’t
the ones inside your flowered underwear.
Who would believe that he’s so old now?
The news says he’s eighty-three and living
like a recluse in a West L.A retreat.
What do his neighbors know, asks, Jenny?
What do anyone’s know, I say?
They toast to Kim’s divorce, and to eternal friendship,
Non Omnis Moriar. Leigh’s quit everything else, except
those equestrian Vietnam vets. She’s found God
with circling horses. Jenny dreams of losing all her teeth.
We order more mojitos. Forgiveness means let go.
Which doesn’t mean they can’t keep secrets. But Kim just can’t
get past Step Three. Leigh says trust is like those muscles
how their fullness moves and flexes. (Eques, Feques, Neques)
I want emptiness and stillness. A silent house with breath
of watered plants. The last time Kim saw him at the black church,
preaching some bullshit homily, was long after police came
around St. Anthony’s (but not about the three of them)
and years after Kim’s mom was called
and she first got suspended
for her third grade limerick, which read:
There once was a man named Rucker…
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Cheryl Buchanan’s Artist Statement: Cheryl Buchanan is an attorney from Los Angeles who earned her MFA while teaching Writing at Emerson College. She is currently writing a collection of poems, called “Witness,” inspired by survivors of child sexual abuse. After having worked in social justice for over a decade, she is interested in promoting the power of literature in unconventional spaces and presently leads free community creative writing workshops in homeless shelters and addiction rehab centers through a nonprofit called Writers Without Margins. Cheryl has been the recipient of the Academy of American Poets Prize, the Boston Mayor’s Poetry Prize and the Naugatuck River Review Narrative Poetry Prize.