Letter seeking memory in place of an answer

Dear ___, There are so many things
we’ve taken for granted. What I’d give
to know the origins of stories merely
cobbled from desperation out of the past.
For instance, do you know what year it was
when my father graduated from college,
when and where he landed his first job?
What size shoe did he wear, what hatband?
I woke with a start this morning, everything
still pitched in darkness, no molten outline
yet around the shutters. All I could think of
was that day in summer— was it 19__? when we
came upon him sobbing in a garden chair,
clutching a letter to his chest. He was
no longer young when he married, when he
went against all expectations of family
and class. But he was a man, that was
the difference. Had he been like us,
had he been female, none of what he did
would have passed muster. A favorite son
eventually is forgiven; a boy will have
his way
. Do you wonder how he felt,
sensing the end pressing more palpably
at the edges? What is success? What
does it mean to have made a life? He had
few assets, no investments. Old before he
reached his prime, past noon he sat and dozed
or dreamed under the bougainvillea vines.
In a window bay, unmoving; clutching a string
of prayer beads— Sometimes this is how we
came upon him: milky eyes closed, light
filtered through a crown of soft grey hair.


In response to Via Negativa: Eucharist.

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