Ethel Kewalo, 1932

by Loren Moreno

What little I knew about my real father
was used to shame me.

Not-real Daddy would say, One of these
is not like the others.
 My sisters and I, shoulder-to-shoulder—

I’m this brown, dark thing against their milky Portuguese.
Their long black hair falling in waves. 

Mine more frantic: wiry curls sitting like a nest on my head.
Momma strayed with a Hawaiian man from Waianae.

Not-real Daddy wouldn’t let her forget it,
not me either. Not for a minute.

Girls, we want our daddies to love us.

I’d bathe the babies.
See how shiny and clean I made them?

I’d sing out loud, a new song I learned in church.
See how talented I am? 

But not-real Daddy didn’t give a shit.
That’s the mistake you have to live with.

When the fighting started, I’d sneak out the window,
wild and barefoot, running down the street.

I’d run and run until I slipped into a blur,
where no one else existed but me. There,

I told myself, my children will know their father,
and he will be as real to them

as my attempts at forgetting.
 

Loren Moreno is a journalist and writer from Honolulu, Hawaii currently living in New York City. He is a graduate of the MFA Creative Writing Program at The New School. His chapbook of poetry Still the Waters is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. He is also the author of the chapbook Aaron & Keoni (Gertrude Press, 2013) and the founder of Atomic Theory Micro Press.

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