By Belle Johns

I just turned the mere age of six, not so smart
I noticed you were gone and I, left in the dark,
wept. You left for cake, for I hate licorice.
You came back, saving the day, you read
the truth, always my father even if not. I said
I love you Dave, and you said listen,

You tell me how proud you are, that I must listen
to the truth and grow from the past, for I am a smart
girl. I look up to you and I always said
I love you Dave, you took me out of the dark.
With you I can always dream of infinity and read
about my second chance. Sweet like licorice

I always loved the aesthetic but loathed the taste of licorice.
Only the finest foreign candy for you. I listen
to what you say even when you cannot read
You need new glasses, that says Cracker Barrel, you smart
Not Chicken Banquet, you can’t read in the dark!
Our family laughs enough to where I said

You’re ridiculous. I now understand comedy, I said.
You still asked me to try the black licorice,
still I refused. Even while cruising around Portland in the dark
you dont believe its a map! It’s only a screen, I listen.
You yank off the glasses and squint, holding the smart
phone close to your vision. It isn’t a map that you read.

Later in years I glance at foreign signs trying to read
obscure directions, unable to understand. Where’s Dad? I said,
worried Mom and I ran thinking you were lost, not very smart.
We searched the Qatar airport, looking at licorice stands,
and finally I had to break away to the gate. I listen
to hear the plane leave and there you are, not in the dark.

The days grow longer, I’m an adult lost in the dark.
I’m not sure what to do, I look up symptoms and read
about the diagnosis. Two hours to the north I listen
to doctors about chemotherapy and I said
tú eres mi favorito, Dad. You offer me licorice
And I accept, for I now understand that you’re so smart.

I will not leave you in the dark, you saved me I said
And I will read lengthy nonfiction to you, buy licorice,
and listen. For your words influence mine, an ass and smart.

You’re My Favorite is a sestina written for my adoptive father to help him get through his chemotherapy treatment in Phoenix. At first this was difficult to write due to the fear of saying goodbye, but by the end of the poem I realized that nothing can take away my love for him and that he will always be close to my heart.