The Art of Graffiti Removal

I always believed until 
long after my mother died
that she was the only
person who loved me

and that
my father was a
shriveled man at heart.

Once my mother
fell hard on the floor
and he never bothered
to lift her up or
give her a helping hand.

Then my mother died and
he tried to replace her,
becoming
more generous,
more kind,
more giving,
more thankful.

I hated him for loving me,
loved him for hating me.
Hated and loved him
for trying to be just a man.

When he died
I feared
that my real
feelings for him
would kill me,
but they didn’t.

The graffiti on the wall,
written slowly
word by word,
and learned by heart
had been
dispassionately and
honestly
white-washed
over.