My father visits me in Minneapolis for the first time in twenty years and asks me to explain things to him.

BY Paula Reed Nancarrow

He starts with his things. He’s dead, of course. But he’s crossing back. Travel seems easier now.

Grandma’s sewing machine, yes, I still have it. Mostly it stays closed. She doesn’t visit much anymore. If you see her, tell her I’m sorry that I told the story wrong, called it a haunted Singer, instead of a haunted White. It made a better metaphor. You’re right, of course. I can tell her myself when I get there. 

The parson’s table you took such care refinishing, and brought out for my parson husband – no, he agreed I should have it. The dry air, yes, the dry air has made it wobble. I need to find someone I trust to glue the joints. Yes, husbands can be good for that sort of thing, but I think we’d both agree mine was not. No, I don’t want to explain the divorce. 

The rocking chair you daresn’t refinish because you didn’t know anyone who could replicate the stenciling – no, I haven’t either. Sometimes restoration brings back a thing too strange to be attached to. Daresn’t was your father’s word. Are you finally speaking to him again? Of course. There are questions you get not to answer, too. 

Yes, that’s the end table. The one you only refinished the surface of. I know, you were getting tired and the legs were curved and fussy. It is my only end table. Yes, I use it every day. It holds my coffee in the morning and my scotch at night. Yes, I still drink them alone. 

No, it’s not so bad, really. But stop by again sometime. Conversation might be easier now.

Paula Reed Nancarrow is a Best of the Net- and Pushcart Prize-nominated Minnesota poet and winner of the Winter 2020 Sixfold Poetry Prize. Recent work has appeared in Nixes Mate, Tilted House, and Permafrost, and is forthcoming in The Southern Review. Links to poems online can be found at

Image Credit: Pexels