So when you, my father

So when you, my father,
come next to pass us by,
ask again if I
would rather find you standing
strong, as once you did 
to my childish eye,
with a voice that made me tremble
in both love and fear of failing you.

Or find now forgiveness
in your frailty,
your hard lines softened
by confusion, the indignity
of dependence offered
as absolution
for your judgement of
my different song.

In this there is no choosing.
The exercise of love
exorcises all
but the fear of losing love.
Ask again and you will
find me answerless,
unable to explain
the journey from your public
wrath to your private pain.