Archive for September 2022

When I Last Saw my Dad

September 9, 2022

They put him out on a bed, a gurney actually, in a big room because the funeral home thought I had scheduled a viewing.

Nope. No viewing planned. I’m the only one here.

OK. You wanna take one more look at him?

Yes, I said.

His face was all I saw; his profile because he was on his back. The rest of him was covered by a white sheet and he lay on the gurney about three feet off the ground.

Of all the pictures of my dad I have in my head that’s the one that sticks with me the most vivid and clear.

Him. Lying stock still. Eyes closed but maybe they did me that favor.

If I spoke. If I said ‘Dad, what’s going on?’ He would hear nothing. Say nothing.

If I hit him with a stick he would do nothing and feel nothing.

Maybe this is why people view the body because, after a life of animation we just wouldn’t believe he’d be like this, or look like this. This is the end, and you’re looking at it.

The funeral director told me to ask him if I could use the bathroom before I left his office to see my dad. It was a ruse, because I wasn’t supposed to see him if I didn’t pay for a viewing.

I was grateful.

Before I left, a group of people who did order a viewing walked into the room, as another body lay in state.

They didn’t speak. Just walked around. Some stared at the body. Others looked away like they were looking for something to say that wasn’t obvious or stupid.

I don’t know. It was time for me to leave.

House in the way

September 4, 2022

The road doubles back.

I pull off the highway. I turn and drive down that two-laner

That’s shaded by oaks that leads to your house and your land

Where you need to cut brush so fire finds no foothold

Like it did years ago when it burned down the old place.

When cruel winds made the flames soar

Like an angry god that wanted to burn all creation:

The graceful. The shapeless. Man made and divine,

All that lay in the way of its path to the ocean. 

But the fire’s fury died and flowers pushed through the ashes. 

You came back and built a house of straw bales and stucco.

The huge stones remained to mark the landscape, rebuilt with your

Gardens and your chicken coup and your terrestrial vision.

At night I hear the bugs and I see you gaze at stars that

I never see since I live in a city where lights whiten the sky.

I drive home and my headlights brighten a small patch of that two-lane road

In the nighttime darkness that covers your home with silence and dreams.