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Go under the ivy, go to the garden, find the heart of the occasion. Find me the spot where there were once small strawberries; I know you picked them with your large, dark hands. Your thumb scarred, immobile, military accident. What haven't you survived, limbs blown off, small stitches, failing intestines, strange surgery; doctors wondering why you're still alive, your liver is a disaster. What haven't you survived? And in all I thought to think of being handed strawberries, being a slight reason for living on, being what my mother ought to have been for you. Father, father, I hand you my goodbyes. Why were there no more berries, no more smiles at my smiles, no heavy hands to shake? What did I do, in the garden of your sanctity, your belief and soul-murmur, to stir her memory so wildly? I fear I cannot be blamed for being her countenance in flesh. Father, the five year old girl would accuse you of unfairness, of guile and dislike, base accusations, base reasoning. I wish I'd been something to you.

Go, go to the place where I remember the blackberries. Go to the swing under the shallow roof, right below the house you sold without asking anyone if they might remember. Go away, drive off far into the darkened forest, around the sudden corners where we once almost hit a bus straight on. Drive past the meadows, the hills, the winding streets, the path you undertook for us, for you, for reasons forgotten. Leave me, run away, vanish. I wish to forget your face, I wish to forget that you've held my hand, that I always knew you were my father though they wanted me to think otherwise. But you had to have me tested, you would have had me discarded; unlike all others.

Lately, I shrink from touch. It happens. I shrink from the mention of warmth, the terror of having it withdrawn again; I shall be punished. In my garden, nothing blooms; the blackberries have frozen in time. All the roses are sleeping, I am sleeping. And when I wake, I take two steps back, around the ashes of yet another corner, dreamless ennui following in my footsteps, drinking from my life. I walk there, waiting to sleep again, trying to oppress your voice, your strong old hands, the smell of your skin. Like an animal, I search for the strawberries.

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