Departing blackbirds thought our home was rest this year,
Settling in great swarms to blanket backyard trees
And giving further burden to the heavy heads of sunflowers,
Which were, at last, too bent to face the sun,
And which the many birds stripped bare,
A pointillism brought to life by need.

Last week the stars shone hard and bright,
With force that only winter air allows.
Orion lay propped on his elbows, the Dog curled near,
And I stood below, a single spot of ink among the multitude.

This morning I walked toward dawn
And did not see it for what it was,
Thinking in error that the shaft of white was a neighbor
Out for who-knows-what at five o'clock.

Today, like a flock of birds, my sister's husband and his kin
Will swoop upon a yellow house, and their weight will ease a burden.
The air will smell of diesel fuel, the fallen leaves, and new snow,
A potent mix to make one crave cold water and saltines,
A rising incense in mid-November to resurrect my father.


November doesn't know what to do with itself. In the space between all the endings and all the beginnings, I, too, find myself turning in blank circles. In my calendar today, November 10th-- "Dad."

Everyone's right. Grief changes, and we change with it, but it doesn't end. It's not something to cross off a list and leave behind. I guess, instead, it's something that forces clumsy poetry first thing in the morning.


Deborah Purdy said...

I'm glad to read your poems on those rare occasions when they appear here. This is the first year I didn't write words for Dad somewhere other than inside my head. It's inexpressibly strange, how time keeps passing and life keeps on and things change in one breath and stay just as they always were in the next.

Nanno said...

My gosh, your dad looks so much like my dad in that second photo, lounging in a chair in his baggy jeans, t-shirt, and suspenders. My dad's hair is all white now. We cherish every day we still have with him.

Rebecca said...

I wish I were a poet. Setting words to paper in a beautiful way, I think, would be very therapeutic. Making something beautiful from thoughts that are not. I try to get words out and I only get frustrated with how poorly I express myself.

Write your poems.... there is nothing clumsy about them.

Abigail said...

I didn't write anything last year or for Dad's birthday, and what you describe is exactly it. The older I get, the more mystery there is in everything.

I have been thinking of your Dad! I'm glad to hear you're all able to enjoy him for as long as God allows. What a gift he is!

That's the beauty of poetry-- it allows one to dabble in something inexpressible, to sift through things, in my case, without really coming to a conclusion. It's not definitive. It simply lets one write about things-- birds, stars, smells, all of which reminded me of Dad-- without getting frustrated by the inability to capture what cannot be captured. I often find prose about such things to be much harder.