We Sons, #107

In dark, we turn to artists,
who offer perspective,
light, hope, knowledge,
bring to the surface
that which rises slowly
and bleeds through canvases,
hued and grayed, when black
and white fades,
when daily trials offer
only questions,
when no sense can be
construed by swapping
puzzle pieces, sorting corners,
swapping the edges.

In desperation, a friend
asks for words about his father,
trapped in the same prison
I visited my dad in
all those years,
a shared sentence
making us each want to curse
our disoriented madness.
The white sheets of the hospital bed,
their taut crispness,
the hallways filled
with souls adrift;
soldiers, presidents, baseball coaches.

He’s reaching out, my friend,
asking what to do,
how to steer these angry waters
that roll in waves
from this man,
who was bigger than the world,
our one time oracle
who knew the answer
to every question,
and who now seems
at times a newborn,
he’s asking
how to stop the curse,
son of an infant.

He’s reaching out,
the man behind those sunken eyes,
trying to steer these waters himself,
in a moment
when the world
he held by the throat,
controlled and conquered,
world where he built houses,
made and raised children
and fortunes, world
that now betrays sense
in shapes and faces,
he’s asking how to stop the curse.

Words won’t heal,
not for the son, nor the father,
nor for the artist,
they well up in the throat
and exit garbled,
head east on main street
and end on the west side,
well thought out, well planned
they come out wrong.
The mind breeds exactness,
beauty, great imaginable
constructs that underpin us.
Our compression
and delivery sucks.

Words heal,
offered at the right moment,
at the exact time. Moments
after my father died,
father I could never talk to in life.
I knelt by his bed, felt his hand.
Father, you taught me
to be myself in all moments
and care nothing for this world.
I will live that. I will
not forget.
These pieces of you I carry.
You will not be forgotten.

Words can heal, but not now.
I found
no calm during the storm,
no place to hide.
But at the grave,
when I’d made peace
with our confusions and was convinced,
ready to speak the gospel,
I spoke
and said, My Father,
looked into the faces of the crowd,
into the rain,
the sun and the mountains.
My tears fell in torrents.

He’ll come back.
A thousand times, in your worst times,
your father will return.
His unbidden spirit trapped
not by disease, nor the dramas
we sons and father’s lay up.
He’ll return
when you are half-awake,
half-asleep, when you’re
confused and want to curse
the world, he’ll tell you
Son, it’s okay, take a nap,
I’ll be here. Sleep.



A day is not done, until it's filled with words.

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