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
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
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.
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
stood at table
fumbled a hug
And debris rained over a Texas plain.
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,
cradled her for an eternal instant,
then twirled her around to the path he’d completed
and wished her luck and love.