Polka Dot Wellies

Emma Casey


You’re disappointed in me—

            drooped mouth, mute eyes—

                        but you hide it well.

I’m that unwanted “accident” child

            (that too soft, too sharp


of fragile crystal)

crushing under your pressure.


Rare. (adj.)  When you smile

            at me, pull me closer for a hug.

Darkened eyes, tight shoulders.

            I feel your beard



Once, you called me a wannabe.  Photocopy

            of a sister smudged by printer ink.

You told someone casually,

            “We don’t get along well.”


Your frown is sharp, your words

            X-ACTO-blade precise.  Can a father

                        be a Father without loving me?


I see myself running down Norfolk

            beaches—the squelch of rocky mudflats

                                    in spring against polka dot wellies.

Your voice catches on wind

gusts in my ears—I’ve never liked

            my name

                        from your lips.


I see myself turn around in yellow-orange

            memory, see blonde wisps dance in my

fuller cheeks.

                        But I’ll stay quiet.

You haven’t learned yet that your


            English doll

would rather traipse through Norfolk mud

            than ever live

                                    with you.