He was resolute North,
tracing a glacial path
like a trench he dug between himself and the wavering world.
Even when he travelled, he carried himself on his back:
a hobbled tortoise with a mind for birdsong.
I was a child then and so he was a monument to me,
a totem pole or a thunderstruck oak.
I glimpse moments with him
in white petals stark
against the rough bark of a fallen log –
his rocking chair creaking under the blare of “Hockey Night in Canada,”
a mallard duck he made me out of wood and paint
with rubber feet that spun, slapping the ground,
a rosebush toothed with thorns,
bloodied with flowers.
I cried on the wrinkled sheets of his hospital bed
because I was ashamed of the tears seething my skin into blisters.
I don’t recall
the throb and hiss of the machine that breathed for him;
only the tubes in his tomahawk nose,
the yellow parchment of his hands
sawdust swept under the corners of doors
and dwelling in the lines around his eyes.
He was inscrutable even in his brashness;
plotting trajectories to the sky,
he could not comfort us.
My mother came in
walking as though she were underwater.
She led me out to the hallway
where the nurses pushed empty gurneys
as I pressed my bowed back into the plastic chair
because I was already losing ways of remembering him.
SENTINEL POETRY (ONLINE) #42
The International Journal of Poetry & Graphics...since 2002
MAY 2006 ISSN 1479-425X Editor: Amatoritsero Ede