James Mulhern has published fiction in over seventy literary journals and anthologies. In 2013, he was chosen as a finalist for the Tuscany Prize in Catholic Fiction. In 2015, Mr. Mulhern was awarded a fully paid writing fellowship to Oxford University in the United Kingdom. That same year, a story was longlisted for the Fish Short Story Prize. In 2017, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He has received other awards as well. His writing (novels and short story collection) earned favorable critiques from Kirkus Reviews, including a starred review of his most recent publication, Give Them Unquiet Dreams. He is an English professor in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Today I saw a father and son
stepping onto the crosswalk.
I braked and watched them pass.
Son on father’s shoulders,
headed to the park with swings.
I drove on, thinking of you
and wondered why you
never lifted me and held my legs
or brought me to the swings.
But you were not that type of father.
Once, we built a shed together.
I heard you say at a family party years later,
“Remember when Danny and I built the shed.”
But it wasn’t my brother
who cut wood and hammered nails with you.
I was bothered just a bit.
I had other memories,
like when you held my hands as we knotted my tie,
how we both looked in the mirror,
and I saw myself in your face.
You patted my shoulders.
Someone crossed the room and paused to take a picture.
It was on the table by your coffin. Your hands on mine.
Proof that we had closeness for a moment,
and that is enough.