Happy Poetry Thursday! Gosh darnit, I *heart* Poetry Thursdays!
Because I am headed for Dodge tomorrow, it really is all I can think about. So today's poem is an oldie, one of my favorites from grad school. It's one where I put everything into it but the kitchen sink--emotion, craft, empathy--and feel like I got so much more out of it. Maybe cathartic is the word I'm looking for.
As I look at the poem now, it reminds me that poems sometimes act like photos, capturing a snapshop of a moment in time. With that said, my father and I have a great relationship but it wasn't always smooth. He is not the same person I wrote about so many years ago. And neither am I.
Poem for My Father
Some night just after 10:30,
before mom leaves for the hospital
and you have started her car,
asked if she has money, her mace,
reminded her that she can pull apart
her Club and use its silver shaft as a weapon,
after you have kissed her goodnight
and watched her drive off from
the kitchen window as she has for so many nights,
driving over slick downtown streets,
and poured your first Jim Beam,
think about tomorrow, how it will be just like today:
boring, full of empty talk shows and infomercials,
or consider the possibility of gardening.
Before you walk up the dark stairway to bed,
drinking yourself to sleep, the TV volume turned low,
it would be nice if you called me, your only daughter,
550 miles from home, paying bills and not sleeping,
as I sit at my keyboard thinking of my father,
who also used to leave about this same time,
pressed and starched in a navy blue uniform,
gold shield, nightstick, bag lunch,
as you left night after night doing a job you hated
and never quit. A fire truck careens around
my street corner and soon
I will turn off my computer and wake
to do the exact same thing tomorrow,
while down south the quiet of your street unnerves you,
so much so you double lock the front door
and turn on the floodlights,
struck with the memory of how mom once quipped
she wished she could work 16 hours a day instead of eight,
anticipating your need for something to do in retirement
as you stare at a dying lawn and entertain the idea
of feeling the cold brown earth between your fingers,
wondering what has happened to this life you chose.