Salton Sea, CA and a poem.
dad, edith & me at salton sea

on the verge of a new century, my father lingers

I. thinking, waiting for a bus

he took the bus downtown every day
before we ate our cereal
in winter, leaving in darkness

I think of him when I watch Fantasia
or listen to Beethoven
wear a long coat and wait for a bus
in the dark

years ago, I dreamt
he stood in the kitchen
remodeled after his death
spoke to me, and I to him

I've written narratives before
told this story to friends, therapists
I am self-conscious of it:
looking away, not speaking
only points more loudly

II. sisters

an email survey
who would you most like to meet
dead or alive?
to my own surprise I answer my father
surprise again
to see my answer return from my sister

we are each jealous of grief and our scars
what age or stage was most vulnerable?
whose scars still tell?
each of us examines pictures
of him
in search of ourselves

III. death (I dance around it)

he is coiled in my cells
hides in my smile
(or so they say; so I hope)
he is a fading photograph
young man leaning against a tank
middle-aged, walking away from the camera

too many questions from others
from myself
what happened/how did it affect you
do you miss him/who was he
and what would it have been like, if not?
younger, I tortured myself
with alternate history
I can't imagine now

parenthetical aside:

all the other fathers are gone too
grandfathers, favorite uncle
and I cry at inopportune moments:
the sight of a snowglobe

IV. wordless

at 16, I wrote poems for the desert
never liked the results
the landscape escaped my puny net
these words are too small
he has escaped again

for JMN (1938-1983)

 (the first page) | (the oldest picture) | (obsessive photography) | (grandma in tonopah) | (leaning on a tank) | (xmas...81 or 82?) | (salton sea) | (a somewhat ironic thing) | (6 degrees of separation) | (special creatures)

return to suite nine
the family room