Elegy, even after 22 years

This entry is part 35 of 41 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Autumn 2012

My father, we did not know then it would be the last day of your life. But you struggled into your slippers and your bathrobe the warm, dusky-gold of corn; and you came and stood in the doorway, holding on to the wooden frame for ballast. How long did you stand there, more wispy than a plume of smoke, simply gazing over the rest of us huddled on two beds? We’d pushed them together, exhausted from going days without sleep through the aftershocks that rocked the city. The upright piano had moved to the far end of the living room. The china cabinet sounded crystal chimes as if from afar, but nearer than the drone of rescue helicopters fracturing the dark. No one dared to light candles for fear of setting the house on fire. No one dared to unfasten their shoes. I’ve written this over and over, composing and revising, revising and composing, trying to return to that elusive fold of time, those last few hours before your body stiffened and your eyes turned silver-grey, the color of a clear but frozen lake. Even as nurses tried to revive you where you lay on a pallet in the hospital wing, your spirit had started its journey. Out of that valley it rose, rising above earthquake ruins, rising higher than the limestone rocks; rising, still, as seasons changed and pools of sleeping fish warmed back to life.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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