Saturday, July 31, 2010

In the Old Days, we Used to Have Poetry Parties

Here's a poem that's been haunting me for quite a while:

Muted Gold

For Abraham Rich

My father died just as my plane touched down.
He taught me journeys don't happen in straight lines.
I loved him wihtout ever needing words.
Is memory a chain of alibis?

He taught me journeys don't happen in straight lines.
His father sailed  Odessa to Boston Harbor.
Is memory a chain of alibis?
The story I choose a net of my own desires?

His father sailed Odessa to Boston Harbor.
Dad worked beside him in their corner store.
The story I choose a net of my own desires?
I wish I'd known to ask the simple questions.

Dad worked beside him in the corner store.
They shelved the tins of black beans, fruit preserves, and almond cakes.
I wish I'd known to ask the simple questions,
he'd have stayed with me and gossiped over toast.

They shelved the tins of black beans, fruit preserves and almond cakes.
What colors did they wear, what languages were spoken?
He'd have stayed with me and gossiped over toast,
now he's smiling but I can't summon the thoughts he's thinking.

What colors did they wear, what languages were spoken?
Was it a muted gold, a world of shattered feeling?
Now he's smiling but I can't summon the thoughts he's thinking.
I pack his clothes away, mark them for Goodwill.

Was it a muted gold, a world of shattered feeling?
What good will it do to dwell, I hear him say.
I pack his clothes away, mark them for Goodwill.
but I hold fast to one old T shirt, butter-smooth, and brilliant.

What good will it do to dwell, I hear him say.
He much preferred to glide along life's surface.
but I hold fast to one old T shirt, butter-smooth, and brilliant
and tell a story by moonlight, to try to keep him with me.

He much preferred to glide along life's surface.
I love him now with images and words,
and tell a story by moonlight, to try and keep him with me.
My father died just as my plane touched down.

-Susan Rich

From
Beloved on the Earth

5 comments:

Mary Beth said...

(o)

Father Anonymous said...

Thanks.

Mompriest said...

I love this poem and remember fondly our poetry parties.

In particular I love the way the poem repeats phrases and then adds a new phrase which then gets repeated - all the while telling a story of love with a bit of remorse.

Diane said...

Mompriest, thanks for coming by "for old times' sake." I'm not sure, but I'm thinking that there is a poetry form that repeats lines.

I love this too.

I bought this book in a bookstore in Duluth at the end of last summer, at about the time my dad entered a nursing home. I've been reading around in it since then, but this poem has really caught me.

and yes, love and remorse.

Jan said...

I like this, especially as I am thinking of both my dad and mom. This afternoon I was at their house, which I still own here in Bellingham, WA. I walked through the empty house (which we rent)today, remembering.