Every Father Says I Love You

By Oscar Mancinas 

Not the one from the sierrain Northern Mexico.

Not the one who said kuira before hola before hello.

Not him: not my dad.

What’s he to do,working in a mine,

a teen deep in the
earth where

I love you cannot breathe?

Or when Indio blooms
into grapes

and triple-digit heat, and
he’s up before dawn,

done after I love you has
gone to sleep?

I love you isn’t at his
wedding, so what’s he

to know about love or you?
Or when

I crawl all over the
floor, grasping

at the world with
confidence like the morning

sun? Spitting and
crying, I see

dad and tug on his
dirty pant leg and beg

to be lifted. He picks love
up, and I

love you climbs from
his arms over his heart

to his shoulders. I
love you sits, rests my

cheek against dad’s
cheek and listens.

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