Monday, February 8, 2010

Looking For Solace

In the winter air I found myself wandering
near the place I grew up
and I stopped there to linger in the trees
my father and I planted so many years ago
that I can hardly remember his voice

Those trees cast shadows on the ground
so indicative of the noon winter sun
sparrows picking through the grass
whispering their frozen song
and I imagined my father's larger than life
shadow there among the trees

And he had something to say
(he always had something to say)
standing where his children used to play
where my mother, my sweet mother
worked in her garden and hung the clothes
on summer evenings
Oh how I wish I could hear her laugh

I had questions for him, my ferocious father
and they rolled through my head
one after the other like scenes in a movie
and if I spoke out loud, asked, I knew
I'd burst into a thousand tears and my legs wouldn't hold me

"Dad, tell me how you were brave."
The only time I ever saw him afraid is when
my mother died and we were home from services
the three of us alone on the sofa
all of us afraid to say a word for what seemed days
knowing one of us more fragile than the other
would break like glass and the river of glass
would cut through bone and flesh and tendons

I wanted him to stand close and
I'd lean in like I did a thousand times
and rest my head on his collar bone
and ask him how he found the courage to tell us
my mother would never be coming home

He'd know how difficult it is to tell my son
when I am not so sure I will be here
when his children are born
when he looks for my face in a crowd
when needs comforting and I am unable to put my arms around him
The idea that he'd forget my voice
made any hope of immortality fly like snow

I wonder where my son would go to find me
would he find his way to the river
where I'd drop him in the water and let his aunt
catch him in the current
would he go to the garden behind the little house
and wait for me there
like I am waiting for my father in the trees

Would he whisper to me summer grass
because he'd know how much I struggled in the winter
to find my own voice and hope
Maybe he'd find Suzy's voice and take comfort
in her cadence the way I do when I am lost

If my father were there with me in the trees
he'd tell me life marches on
and that the brave are remembered
in songs that we sing when we are alone
they are honored and held close
to our hearts

When I put my arms around one of those trees
they didn't touch on the other side
That's how we marked our age
we'd go to the yard and those tiny twigs
now towering lumbering oak
just like us

If I listened closely I could hear
the clanking of horse shoes
and laughter that echoes here
and kindness where there was once turmoil
nature's polite fiction

Then for a brief moment I could hear his voice
tell me that the passage of time
will purge the demons if you just let go
if you banish fear from your heart
if you try one more time
when you are sure you don't have one more time in you
if you refuse to be sad when it's creeping over the edge
when all you want is to be somewhere where you can lean in a little
lean here amongst the trees
and know that I am close
and that I look for you here more
than you look for me
Love is not a thought apart from
the concrete of reality
it is proven again and again
through the daily living and decision of our lives
when we are close and when we let others close
when we are the sparrows braving winter
singing spring's promise
when you look for me here
like you looked for me the last morning
I was there with you
with a heart full of brave
and promise

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