Hey, Dad,

by Nina Hahn



Remember when you took me cliff jumping at Lake Jocassee

the summer that you said Jesus must’ve been frying chickens 

in God’s Scarlet-fever breath?

The summer that you taught me to shave, even though

I still had a baby face, and you only shaved your russet beard twice a year?

Then we went to Swenson’s in your waxed Ram pickup, and you ordered a 

double cheeseburger with pickles, but you only got a single 

cheeseburger with pickles? And you said, 

“Sonofabitch only gave me one burger.”

You see, I took your second meat slab, Dad. 


You went to the bathroom, and I stuffed it 

into my double cheeseburger to make 

a triple. Three times 

as salty and meaty as yours, with three times 

the leather resistance against my teeth. I ran three times 

as fast as you to the bathroom that afternoon. Selfishly,

I wanted more to fill the athletic hole in my stomach.

I’m sorry, Dad.


I guess I should be sorrier about the time I stole the Ram 

to hit a triple with Hannah. Or when I used your ID 

to buy booze, because at eighteen, I was “the spittin image of” you—

curly brown hair and dirt eyes that everyone loves so much. You’d laugh 

if I told you I couldn’t hold down the booze. 

“What’d you go and do a thing like that for, 

son?” you’d say.


You licked the cheeseburger grease off your fingers that day, 

crumpled the foil wrapper, and turned on the engine, blasting

cool air to dry our salamander skin.

And I can’t get over 

the way life moved on after that. Four burgers and two people 

in one pickup, twelve years gone by, and now there’s 

one son alive, hands shaking 

over a letter to one father who’s not. 


You probably thought it didn’t add up—

it doesn’t add up, does it, Dad? — 

a double cheeseburger that’s served as a double but ends up as a 



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