When I wrote this poem in 2008, it was just a couple of weeks before he left us. The response to this work was strong; many people were moved and it touched something in their own experience. That is why I am choosing to share it today, on the 7 year anniversary of my father’s death. I have other, cheerier, reflective pieces to commemorate him, but someone may need this particular one right now.
I enter the room
Where you lie on the bed,
Pillow props your head—
So many words unsaid.
I look in those
Still-sparkling eyes and see
Shades of the father
Who oft carried me.
Are you inside
This man gone so gray
Who gave me away
On the hottest of days
Post-chase of O.J.?
Who danced jaunty jig
Each St. Paddy’s feast
And loved every beast–
The kindest man
Who brought strays
Home from church,
Or birds felled
From their perch–
Can’t see you, though I search
For the fearless man who led
Our voices and who read
From pulpit many times–
Forgave me all my crimes.
You taught me how to drive
Though I fought you tooth and nail,
Left you standing in the hail
As I tore off down the road–
You didn’t much explode;
The one who drove my teddy bear
Cross-country with such care
Just to hand him back to me,
My delighted face to see,
The man who never
“Cheaped out” on a gift,
Who gave me fireman’s lift
To bed each night
And tucked me in,
Protected me from sin and
Guided me as much
As you could with word and touch,
The man who held my hand
When I fell and hurt my head–
Needed stitches, then you led
Me to fairground, for a whirl,
To distract your little girl;
The numbers man—wordsmith as well,
Writing letters, truths to tell,
British-soldier way back when–
Memoirs never put to pen,
Only photos to attest,
Save the stories in our breasts,
But your duty you upheld,
Passing on the faith that dwelled
In your head and in your heart,
My salvation to impart
And you lifted me up high,
In my spirit…’til I die…
Now, your smile for me, is brief;
Still its pow’r restrains my grief,
Though your eyes close as I stand
By your bed–you take my hand,
In your twisted, vice-like grip,
As the saline-drip, drips drips.
From your grasp I slip
From the room
… the fade…
‘til I come another day.
Her beauty, like the freshest rose
that hides the worm
at its core.
I thought I could no more
turn from her,
than I’d deny my Lord.
The night cried out
through dusty storm,
to strike me to the core,
for she was not
I should adore.
wore adornments—claimed them
bold and brave,
but it was blood they
took and gave, and
left their children
full of dull innocence,
too sullen in the sun …
I cut my wrist, the glass
her mother laid insipid
lips to where it bled,
I might have slipped
under the spell,
but for Olalla,
who cast me off,
to save me from her Hell.
We did it right,
The music played – endlessly,
and we sang carols
with smiles from ear to ear.
To make this year
We’ve lost a part of ourselves
along the way.
We sit and wait for another part
to chip away.
Our memories can hold us,
but only just.
I don’t want to light the tree,
or wrap too many packages
with pretty paper.
The only thing that can lift
my spirit and save the day
will be our faith.
Some nights, before I go to sleep,
I keep seeing you, as you once were (when I was young).
Strange, the things we remember:
The way you brushed your teeth, so hard,
as if they were up for daily inspection by an army officer,
or how you stamped your feet
on the mat by the door, every time you came in.
I used to marvel,
at your ability with a steering wheel—one hand,
pulling it down and around, when we turned
If I’m lucky,
Before I drift away, I’m allowed the sound of your whistle,
or a line of a tune we both loved.
I can hear the swish of your brush against your shoes on Sunday morning,
as you polish them up—good as new.
Then I see your back and shoulders,
(in an old white vest), bent in prayer to God,
if you still do that too.
|Please click image to go to The Mag website for details.
I should drown in your unending love;
You will always pull me to the shore.
As I traverse these seas of doubt, I lose my way;
You reach out your hand to rescue me.
Yours is the unquestioning love—
Tireless and without fail.
I fall to my knees and beg you to forgive,
You lift my head and look me in the eye.
Why do I betray you, countless times?
Why do I forget you are my one true love?
I let you slip from me; I navigate alone.
I am adrift on the waves—floating, floating …
You save me once again.
(Photo by Kat)
Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, TFE’s Poetry Bus is setting sail, er, on the road once more. This time, Pure Fiction is at the helm and I’m not just a little “chuffed” as you, British/Scots/Irish are wont to say, that there are chocolate digestive biscuits on board. Yahoo!
She’s looking for a monumental spiritual event, and though I’m a believer, I can’t say as I’ve ever had one of those, so I’ll have to resort to a vicarious one. Here ya go!
Have I lost the plot completely? (Or just missed the bus?)
The female feline, ghostly white,
Gazes up at the swirl-swept ceiling.
Fills us with uneasy feeling;
What does she see—a wispy sprite?
There’s no one there, whom we’d invite.
I feel a chill run through each bone;
Blanche stands stock-still—a pale tombstone.
I find the spot, she’s fixed upon;
Was something there? For now, it’s gone.
Were we perhaps, too impolite?
On second thought, this might do nicely,
by which my
choose to rise
Please note: I’ve written two pieces for this prompt. The second was an after-thought.
Faith and Death and Faith
I find Him when I hear the notes of Mozart,
And when a voice can thrill me to the bone;
I find Him in a taste that is exquisite,
Or outside in the yard, beneath a stone.
I find Him in the eye of my adored one,
Whose cheek so soft and tender touches mine;
I find Him in the petals and the branches,
And Sundays in the water and the wine.
I find Him in the grizzle-headed hunched ones,
Who fill up all the seats at Mass each week;
I find Him in the toddlers at Communion,
Who don’t know yet, the Kingdom that we seek.
I fail to see Him in the stone-faced statues,
Or wooden boxes draped with cloth of gold;
And ornate altars, edged with gilded touches,
Cannot arouse an ardour that’s gone cold.
I find Him in the hymns of Middle Ages,
and prayers and lines the Ancients wrote and said,
but since he took my father from my presence,
a part of Him, to me is all but dead.
I’m a hypocrite.
I’ll tell you I’m anti-euthanasia,
but only for the rest of them—
not for me.
If I’m sick with some
do away with me—
let’s get the suffering over,
so we can all go home.
Don’t lie me in a bed,
to shrivel up,
in wailing agony;
cut me loose,
and walk away,
knowing I’m free from it all!
Then incinerate me
and take me to a place
where the birds sing sweet
and the creatures of God
gambol, as they do.
Mix me with the dirt
(take some home with you)
and dust off your hands.
For more participants in TFE’s Poetry Bus, please visit his site: Totalfeckineejit for the links. Thanks.