For My Beloved Father (1929-1992)
The tortoise hides in marsh grasssolid and still, a footstool for the wind
resting its legs.
With the silence, afternoon shadows lengthen
and my thoughts stretch toward you, that day
when I was a young daughter
watching minnows slide under seaweed,
a turtle under his shell, even the sun
ducking under dock leaves.
I asked, are they playing hide and seek?You smiled and nodded yes.
Still curious, I addedWho’s counting, God?
Again, you smiled and whispered,Probably, He keeps track of all things.
A silver flash of leaf or finflared and faded into rippling water,
an unwinding sentence.
When they die, there’ll be a pond and trees
in heaven, just like here?
You took a few seconds to answer,There will be a lake and forest
to care for everyone.
Satisfied, I turned back to the water,my reflection wavering into a tallness
that could almost touch the other bank.
And today, I am still attempting to reachthat bank without the wind, only prayer
and a need to confess --
I haven’t been hiding all these yearsor seeking to avoid your presence
over there. I just didn’t know how
to ask for help -- or say I still need you.
A heart to rest my grief, to give shelter
within a small wilderness.