Another Poem about Forgiveness
17 & running barefoot down Burbank Street
like the world’s burning behind me.
A stranger drives away with my mom’s baby
blue mini van, she has work in an hour.
I’m running like I’ll catch up, like I’ll
grab the van by the rear bumper & drag it
back to the front of our house & my mom
will say thank you, or you did a good job—
words she never says.
Our front yard is a mosh pit of dandelions
& I’m stepping on all of them.
I want to say
we’ll figure this out, or I’m sorry
but I don’t. I watch her walk inside
& shut the door. I want to take care of her—
learn how to mow the lawn,
walk her dog, buy her a popcorn maker,
wash her sheets, ask her how she’s doing.
All of this is doable: the buying, popping,
washing, drying, but I’m always doing & she’s
always watching, saying nothing. I want to
love her, teach her how to do it.
If I Was Gordon Ramsay’s Daughter
6:30a.m. & on the set of Hell’s Kitchen, I’m watching him punch
an undercooked filet of salmon while keeping his eyes on crying contestant Joe,
who was caught eating lobster risotto during dinner service.
But when we lock eyes across several kitchen countertops, his smile flashes
like a fridge light as I watch him whisk with gusto—I never knew
a wrist could move so fast
until my 7th birthday. He made hard boiled eggs for breakfast
because he knew I liked them, but he made 30. I only ate 2, so he said:
C’mon, let’s go play ball outside.
He let me go first—I grabbed an egg from his apron pocket,
swung my arm in circles like a crank & pitched the egg underhand.
He blasted it outta the park (over our gate)
& then I clasped my hands together like a baseball bat
& let him launch eggs at me, fastballs, I could barely keep up but he kept going
until every egg was hit. Now
I’m watching him gather 7 men into a corner, cameras rolling,
he’s yelling: Have your brains been boiled? He’s throwing scallops
like speedballs, he’s kicking everyone out of the kitchen, sweat’s dripping off his chin
like juice off a steak knife until he sees me again,
wipes his chin with his apron & says: Hey kid, get over here—let me show you
how to dice a carrot.
He makes sure I’m fed, that I know how to feed myself. He thinks red velvet cake
is bullshit, but he always bakes one for my birthday. He remembers
my birthday, my name, when he sees me he knows
I’m his daughter. When I’m one bad day away
from sticking my hand in a blender, he always picks up the phone, even at work,
he says: Stop the cameras you idiots!
It’s my daughter.
When Ally Asks About My Dad, I Panic & Tell Her
my dad is Paul Rudd. That’s why you’ve never met him
cause Paul Rudd is busy. One timeI asked him
if he misses me while he’s gone & he said of course,
but Ant-Man isn’t going to shrink himself, &no,
I don’t know what that means,& no, he doesn’t call
but I know he’s my dad cause I was born & he was there
slappin the bass while the doctor slapped my ass
& my mom was all like Paul, please, but he played
all the way through Rush’s “Tom Sawyer”
before leaving the hospital room & coming back
15 min. later with one large balloon filled
with smaller balloons like meta-confetti.
So, if you ever decide to come over, my dad
won’t be there, & no, I don’t think he’ll ever be there
cause he’s Paul Rudd, but I hope when you watch
Friends on Netflix & you come across the episode
where my dad’s character Mike changes his name
to “Crap Bag,” you’ll yell at the screen:
“That’s Bri’s dad! He’s a Crap Bag!”
& you’ll be right. You’ll be so, so right.
A Cabrera's poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in The New Guard, Brain,Child Magazine, Colere, Acentos Review, The Berkeley Fiction Review, Best Travelers' Tales 2021 Anthology, Mer, Deronda, and other journals. Her short fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Award and adapted for stage by the Bay Area Word for Word Theater Company. She writes, teaches, dances and ride bikes in San Francisco, but not always in that order.
Bri Griffith earned her MFA in poetry from Florida International University in 2021. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in "Columbia Poetry Review," "Small Orange," "Beaver Magazine," "Court Green," and elsewhere. She was a Best New Poets nominee in 2021. Griffith is a writing instructor at University of Pittsburgh and Community College of Allegheny County; she's a proud member of the Madwomen in the Attic.