Losing my father sneaks up on me
Like this grey day and the sidewalks of New York
Where my father spent his prom night on the starlight roof of the Waldorf Astoria
Jones Beach to watch the sunrise
Back home before breakfast, bacon and eggs,
Or how he took the ferry from Kyle of Lochalsh to Portree on Skye
just to taste a drop of pure single malt whiskey, just to fall from his chair,
Because Scotland was a search for the Loch Ness monster, the epic hero and his quest for a trophy, a bite on the nose, or how my sister and I walked those same streets fourty-five years later,
Hoping to trip over
Just one footprint.
There’s the photograph artlessly tacked to the wall of the dead man and the dead dog
two ghosts peering wildly up that steep stone staircase.
I dreamt he was swinging on a net, hanging over the fastest running gorge and he told me to jump
I dreamt I heard his deep clear voice, calling in the early morning hours for the dog
I dreamt we opened his refrigerator and it was brand new, stainless steel and empty
I dreamt I was in a car, pulling away and he was holding my hand until he couldn’t, anymore.
In springtime the ice will melt from the pathway of Upper Treeman
like it always does
the urn is always waiting, anyway
we ask ourselves what this means
to keep him, so long after he’s gone
so long after he’s puzzled over poems, scarring them with a green pen,
so long after he’s delivered the last omlet on a Sunday morning with ham, peppers, onions and Olde English just how we like?
Thanksgiving this time we would go walking in the woods, naming things,
or we’d drink our hazelnut coffee, eat too much and head out the front door to find the Grandfather tree. There would be the looping of our fingers as we stretched our way around the trunk in the quiet forest with the leaves turning brown and drifting all around us, drifting into the glassy, bass-filled water of the pond across the street.
The picture window of the kitchen steamy with the heat of a thousand delicious dinner smells,the radio blasting Prarie Home Companion, the little man dancing around on the dull terracotta tiles, smiling, teaching me how to fox trot.