REFRAIN – Ja’net Danielo

In my mother’s mouth, refrain becomes restrain & this is not a slip

of anything. When I say I loved my father, let the d of past tense


slap the back of my teeth, I see the limitations of time, by which

I mean our construction of time, by which I mean body, by which


I mean mine. When the doctor asks about the cancer, how I

handled the news & I say I wasn’t surprised, I mean Tumor,


I’ve been waiting for you my whole life. When my mother says restrain,

she means refrain & somehow, they are the same—this fast-


binding, drawing together of threads over & over. And I know

now we are never going back to anything—not even if we found


a way to travel faster than the speed of light, like in 2001: A Space

Odyssey, which, according to my college physics professor, would


catapult us into past. Not even then. The light would be different,

bent. So, months after my father’s death, when I tell my husband


I feel the devastation of fans when the Beatles broke up & how

the pain of no more hollows my gut, knives the bone of my chest,


what I mean is I’m never going to see my father again, by which I mean

I am never going to           again.

Ja’net Danielo is the author of The Song of Our Disappearing (Paper Nautilus, 2021). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Shore, GASHER, Mid-American Review, Radar Poetry, Frontier Poetry, and elsewhere. Originally from Queens, NY, Ja’net teaches lives in Long Beach, CA. You can find her at

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