Michael La Bombarda ~ On Finding Out My Father Was Named After Saint Nicholas of Bari

Reading some art history,
I came upon this information
Of Saint Nicholas of Bari—
That there is a painting
By Gentile de Fabriano
Called Pilgrims at the Tomb
Of St. Nicolas of Bari, and I
Inferred from this fact
That my father was named
After this saint, since his
Name was Nicholas and
His parents came from Bari.

My father was not a saint.
He ran off with my next-
Door neighbor when I was
Nine years old. They lived
Not far from us in Astoria.
Over the years I’ve spent
A lot of time thinking about
My father who was a regular
Solitary guy who needed a
Woman to make him happy.
Not a stranger to kindness,
He loved his dog Bruno.

If I find fault with my father,
It’s because he felt his duty
Towards me was over when
I turned eighteen years old.
He didn’t persist in his fatherly
Duties beyond that age, which
Was his legally allotted time.
Nick will always be my dad,
And maybe because of his
Example I never married or
Had children of my own, but
I have no proof that I could
Have been different as a dad.

Maybe I wouldn’t criticize you,
Pop, if I had some remembrance
Of you calling me your son,
Which is not even true,
Though I thought it might work
Here. You were always proud
Of me at baseball or basketball
Games, and you would let me
Drive your cars out on the island.
No matter what I say good or bad,
It won’t bring you or mom back
To our family house in Flushing.

Maybe if I learn Italian I’ll be able
To speak to you with love and honor.
Maybe if I speak French to mom,
I won’t blame her for your leaving us.
Maybe if I write this in English,
I’ll be able to heal myself from the pain.
Maybe if I speak all three languages
Well, I’ll make us a family again.

Michael La Bombarda is retired. He has been published in Appearances, Public Illumination Magazine, the New Leaves Review, and the Worcester Review. He is currently learning how to draw and photograph. He has one chapbook called None Other Than You published by Run Around Press. michaellabombarda@yahoo.com

St Nicolas of Bari

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