the other woman.

my mother was
the other

when he
nadia up
in 1963
my father
already had
a family--
3 daughters
and 4 sons
(my secret
half-sisters &

he was a big
editor in prague
known to

my mother
was married,
too, and her
first husband
had sent her
to him w/ a
which he could
not publish
in his own name
b/c he was not
a communist

he sent her
showing leg
b/c my father
was known
to have a

they fell
in love or
very much
like it

when his wife
found out
she said
and cast
him out

after the tanks
rolled in in '68
they escaped but
America was no
great shakes

the only job
he could get was night watchman
at chase manhattan
which must have been
hard because he
was proud

what did the rock-
efellers care
for an editor
from prague?

(one day far
into the future
my big sister
would sit at their
table, recipient
of a scholarship
for employees'

as if that weren't
bad enough
he got in a car crash,
hit his head
on the dash

the radio knobs
got stuck

when they checked
him out
they found cancer
in his right ear that
would not stop

they tried chemo,
radiation, and
they cut

it wasn't enough

he was so disfigured
my sister and I were
kept away
but on her 1st
he insisted
on seeing her

my mother wheeled
him out

my sister froze
in her pretty dress

our mother
just stared,
wanted to say
"go hug your daddy"
but couldn't

he looked like
a monster
and he knew it

i have the
medical records,
hospital bills
from columbia
dying place
of the rich
where he got in
through an old
czech doctor

2 years ago
i went there
hunting for ghosts
from 1973
but all i found
was a fancy
waiting room:

dark wood trim,
heavy furniture,
instead of TV
a stock ticker
ran quotes in
green like the
Times Sq. zipper.

i had the leather
couch to myself,
no one else
was there

security said
nothing to me

i was still
after 25 years

jan 28 2001
3:28 a.m.

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