Saturday, December 14, 2013

Who we are (12-14-13)

Poetry workshop assignment: Write a poem about your father--a challenge for which I'm grateful, though at times it was intimidating--so many memories! How to compress fifteen years of them into a poem.

I wrote pages of notes, and know this: if I added more to the poem below, I doubt I could stop--choosing was so hard--finally needed to let the poem work its way into words and hope that they could speak some kind of truth. Always loved this photo of him.


Who we are

I carried your voice into battles,

which sometimes I won.

You silenced me, urged me

also to break silence.

The dolls were gone. You returned

them saying “you were right,

no one can be forced.”

The music filled the house, blasting

Beethoven, Irma la Douce, Camelot.

Christmas brought Dickens’ Carol,

light shows,

and, too soon, death,

which, somewhere,

still hasn’t happened.

(In St. Ursula, the funeral—surrounded by Christmas—days

earlier “O Holy Night” soprano solo.)

Hospital PA system, West Penn,

“Dr. McManus.” Every name called in the same tone,

yet yours leapt out from every corner.

I hear it still—only

it’s my name now, sometimes.

Words dance around, fill pages, won’t hold still.

Somewhere between the lines, you whisper “Diane.”