Friday, March 18, 2011

For Daughters, For Sons

My father, Alan Pike, with my big sister, Kirsten
I heard a few days ago that one of my good friends just lost her father unexpectedly. I know the pain of this. There are so many troubling events that shake us, and more it seems, in recent days, with the environmental disaster in Japan, the loss of our wildlife on US shores to inexplicable reasons.

I'm sure that nobody wants to read about death on a Friday, but death is an inescapable part of life. It doesn't mean we can learn how to embrace it, though some have. It doesn't mean we can learn how to heal, because some never will. But it can offer us a powerful lesson in living: love.

We can send our prayers, our love, and any money, goods, or supplies we can to aid relief efforts around the world when disaster strikes. No gift, thought, or amount is too small.

We can turn off the water when we're brushing our teeth, start collecting rain water in a barrel, reduce our weekly amount of trash, or try to use electricity conservatively to show our love for the earth.

We can write a letter, make a phone call, or send an email to let people in pain know that we care. I wrote this poem maybe five years ago for my friend Marcie when her father died shortly after I lost mine. I sent it to my friend in England today, and I wanted to share it with you, incase there's someone you know that it might speak to.

With love,

(For Marcie)

Too many people have died
this year
and I just can't keep my head up.
The tears plow instead, persistently
into the sorrow of it all
and in weeping this
strange pain
in weeping into this hollowness
I spit it back into the world.

There is something about a man and his dog --
and we can't explain it,
we just can't explain it, but all we can tell you is:
the smell of late autumn leaves and shadows of sunlight and paws and boots and fur and
a moment by the creek
listening to the chuckle of ice cold water
and the pillowing of a head on a rock
the washing of ears with the sound of the stream.

There is something terrible about a man leaving his dog,
because dogs wait.
We pour our grief into musty bedspreads,
cry cradling a pair of sturdy wool socks.
We cancel cell phone contracts and name executors and close out the visa account and sell the house and drive by the next time we’re in town
and break to pieces all over again. 
But they,
they wait by the door,
or by the bed,
wait for the jangle of keys that mean
with a gentle smile,
it’s time for a stroll,
and even when the walking got tough,
they wait in January packed snow
business complete
wait to come inside to the warm.

There is something so terrible about fathers who loved,
and leave their

and all we can do is wait

and howl our ache
into the moon
that shimmies over the night time gorge water
and miss them and MISS them every day
and pound our fists into the earth
and catch springtime bees on our fingers
and soak the growing cracks of our faces in tears
eventually we know

there is something about a great man
and being his daughter
there is something about dying
that leaves you behind, waiting your turn
and there is something about being the daughter of a great man
that helps you know this,
and you live a little better
and try to smile a little more with your eyes
and say, "I'm sorry, I fucked up" with a little more gusto
because we all take our turn
it's only a matter of when

when I go,
all I want to keep are the sun speckled leaves,
the sound of rushing water,
the feeling of his callused hand in mine
and just a head,
the flicker of a white-tipped tail
disappearing around a bend
in the winding, muddy trail.