In Memory of Dad

Today is the 25th anniversary of the Challenger disaster, and the eighth anniversary of my dad’s death. This Tuesday is the anniversary of the Columbia disaster, which occurred on the same day as dad’s memorial services. There were two gatherings, one in Houston and one for me, great with child, in Atlanta.

I’ve tinkered with this poem for years. This is the current form.

Relics: A Diary

January 28
As the phone call ended downstairs
I folded down a corner of the Secret Garden,
perched it atop a stack of books, way too optimistic
for the fortieth week, and turned
toward the door to my husband’s
ashen face—
I turned toward the door, the door,
the door beyond which
there be dragons, as the mapmakers used to say
with their quills poised over a tattered void.

February 1
While the family gathered
four states away,
filed past his red motorcycle loitering
at the church steps,
I placed a picture on a low table,
exhaled into a chapel, and sat down creaking front.
And people who didn’t know him,
but who knew me, loved me (loved me! loved me?)
filled in respectful rows,
heard how he made French toast and adored
Alice’s Restaurant,
stood at table
tore bread
fumbled a hug
and left.
And debris rained over a Texas plain.

February 12
In dreams, at least,
a gleaming new child
met a confused old wanderer.
There, she said, pointing behind her,
to forever, to Goodness,
that’s the way you’re looking for.

All right then, he said,
lifted her,
cradled her for an eternal instant,
then twirled her around to the path he’d completed
and wished her luck and love.

 

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5 thoughts on “In Memory of Dad

  1. anne says:

    when we were expecting our third child, bob’s mom died—just 3 or 4 weeks before dawn was born. i had already selected the birth announcements—which featured a big rainbow. the day after grammy died there was a full double rainbow in the sky—which seemed to be grammy’s way of saying to me that she had already seen dawn and laid a special blessing on her life.
    your blog today brought those sweet memories flooding back into my mind in a fulsome way.

  2. Rachel Heslin says:

    I love that image of their passing along the way. So lovely.

  3. Cathy says:

    That’s beautiful…really beautiful! I am so sorry for your loss. As you know, that is something we share…the sudden loss of our Dads. Sometimes it takes me by surprise that my dad didn’t know Claire. And, then i realize that somehow he did, he must. This is nice to imagine that he in some way helped us find our soul…the one we were to raise. And, Randy’s Grandma died while we were in China.

  4. Kelley says:

    This is my favorite of your writings. Out of much pain…

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