Trilogy for My Father
IMPRINTS (Part 1 of Trilogy for My Father)
His shoes by the front door make me cry,
like his glasses resting atop an
and his toothbrush in its holder
the bristles still damp.
And I wonder…
Did he brush his teeth
before he put the gun to his heart?
A cereal bowl waits in the sink;
The laundry basket overflows.
“To Do” lists adorn the refrigerator.
Suicide is not on the list,
and I am almost surprised.
He was a tidy person, neat
organized almost to the point of obsession.
That’s how he lived;
that’s how he died.
I’d have felt better if, for once in your life
you’d left a mess. But no
even in the ultimate act of selfishness,
you strove to be polite, choosing to lie
on the shower’s cold tiles, no doubt
thinking we could just flush the blood away
with the turn of a faucet.
Yes, the place is spotless.
A tiny trace of blood, a single gouged tile
are the only signs that a life ended here.
It seems, somehow, that there should be more.
ASTROTURF AND SNOW
(Part 2 of Trilogy for My Father)
We stand on cemetery Astroturf
strategically placed to spare us the dread hole,
snow scaling the tops of our shoes
to compete with the ice in our hearts.
The old priest’s boots peek from beneath
a cassock that dangles below his parka.
He jokes gamely about the weather,
reading prayers for my father, a man he never met,
with shaking hands and chattering teeth.
He is a stranger recruited by the others lest someone
discover the shame of self-inflicted death.
Numb in every way it’s possible to be numb,
we await the blows of a grief that suicide denied us
and summon memories that refuse to respond
while, in their place, we have Astroturf and snow.
THERE WILL BE NO FLOWERS TODAY
(Part 3 of Trilogy for My Father)
I took my children to the cemetery, a rare visit,
But they did not understand
—could not understand—
of lives and dreams turned to dust,
of a childhood lying buried in those graves.
Or is it the childhood I wished for those many years?
“Where’s Anddad?” my daughter asked.
“There, beneath that stone. His ashes,” I said.
Ashes of a relationship as cold as this frosted grass.
“Anddad all burned up!” chortles my youngest.
“And here is Grandma,” I tell him, but it’s just a word.
“See the rose on the plaque? She loved roses.”
I remember when the dog peed on her prized
yellows until they died. Until she cried.
I thought her tears silly at the time but not now.
“Grandma would have loved you,”
I inform my bored offspring.
Loved you like she never loved me.
I reach for the vase set in the grave marker,
but time has rusted it in place.
There will be no flowers today.
Copyright © Mary Oliver Rotman | Year Posted 2015
This treasure I found by accident while surfing the internet.
The power of words, touching a stranger.