To Have and To Hold

To Have and To Hold
By Beth Cortez-Neavel
I want to be there
in the past
to hold your hand
like you have held mine, father.
I want to be there that day
to tell you
you will not be like him
you will never be like him.
I want to whisper in your teenage ear
that you will raise with love
and discipline and art
three beautiful children.
I want to be there,
holding your hand
as you tremble behind glass windows
of an old junk car
listening to your mother
say nothing
as he clutches her neck
screaming “¡Voy a matarla!
¡Voy a cortarla!”
Instead, father,
I am in the pew, watching,
as your stooped mother
tells your debilitated father
she will have him
with love
for another fifty years
as you read a blessing from the Escritura Santa
in a language you tried to forget long ago.

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