Thursday, June 25, 2015
A Smile From My Father
I closed the book on those early chapters,
since aging is about embracing what was,
letting go of what wasn't.
But I remember how you loved to tell jokes,
acting them out, making us wait, grinning,
for the killer punchlines.
I got my love of music from you.
You played a mean sax, a mellow alto clarinet.
When the band got grooving,
towards midnight, my mom said
the walls and floors themselves
thumped and wavered with the beat.
Sometimes you'd get me up in the middle of the night
to sing and dance for your friends.
I'd do a song, a self-taught, shuffle-ball-change,
in my ratty old plaid bathrobe,
bow to the applause,
go back to bed, face shining,
feeling like a star.
I would be discovered!
Just a matter of time.
I remember after you died,
when I was just fourteen,
I was standing in the aisle
of Long's Drug Store, up at Capri,
and oddly, there you were, incomprehensibly,
behind the lunch counter,
with the waitresses.
Impossible that there would be
another man who looked exactly like you,
wearing your clothes,
looking at me, and smiling.
I turned away,
because...it couldn't be you.
And now I know it was.
You peeked in on me
to make sure I was all right,
offering your unspoken love
through your smile
from the other world.
- a little late for Father's Day, but here it is.