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For my father

His is the first hand I can remember holding
Big and warm, his chicken drumstick thumb and flat, wide nails.
His grip was always tight.
When we we're kids we had a code, a phrase unspoken, instead its syllables squeezed out like morse code.
Four squeezes - Do. You. Love. Me?
Three squeezes - Yes. I. Do.
Two squeezes - How. Much?
He would grip my hand so tightly it would turn my fingers blue.
I might have my mothers hands but at my fingertips you'll find his flat, wide fingernails.
His little half moon lunula is the same shape as mine.

His is the voice that ended every day.
We would kiss our mother goodnight and take ourselves to bed
but keep the door open for him, wait quietly in the dark for his shadow to appeared in the hallway light.
Wriggle to the cold side of the bed so he could sit on the edge.
Recount the day, fill the darkness with tales of primary school playground politics and high school dramas. Blankets tucked tight, kisses goodnight.
On the nights he was on the road he would call, like it never occurred to him that he couldn't put us to bed from five hundred miles away.
Theres not a day of my youth I can recall ending without him.

And he is in so many little things
The smell of tomatoes always remind me of him.
The way he would run around in the twilight with a watering can, our family waiting impatiently in the car because he couldn't bear to not water the garden before we go.
He is still the first person I think of when I hear someone making coffee in the morning
because every day of my childhood began with him making the same sound.