Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Birthday Poem

For My Beloved Father (1929-1992)
The tortoise hides in marsh grass
solid 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 added
Who’s counting, God?

Again, you smiled and whispered,
Probably, He keeps track of all things.

A silver flash of leaf or fin
flared 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 reach
that bank without the wind, only prayer
and a need to confess --

I haven’t been hiding all these years
or 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.



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