You weren’t fixing on leaving, you had other plans. But, God laughed and you were gone. A memory written ad nauseum, causing hearts to ache at each re-telling. Eyes swelling with tears laced with fears of folks forgetting. It’s hitting home the more distance passes and a trace of your face flashes in my mind from time-to-time. You are nine years in passing and I keep amassing poems well long after you’re gone. And my life moves on.
Visions secured in heart tattoos of Technicolor. Kodachrome kept in the vault of your mind; mega-pixels held for posterity, photographs with a memory. Bringing joys long festered, sequestered deeply within. Sorrows of many lost tomorrows preserved in faces and places of loves long gone. And somewhere, there is a flash of brilliance illuminating the shadows. You choose this moment to preserve. It deserves a revered space. Your snap decision is precise. These memories will live in photographs.
Melancholy memory brought her to the playground of her youth, but the truth is, she had never left. On the third swing she sees herself gently undulating, her rosy cheeks contrary to her pale complexion; a reflection of the ghosts long gone. Feet dragging, kicking up the dirt like powder, they stray from the grass more green, a scene she replays with her every return. She yearns for the days where a gentle fling of her head would send a spray of gold; her blonde tresses in the wind. From the nearby bench I can see her; having made this return of my own. We are both grown now and wiser, and like an sensuous seduction the emotion of these fond memories come to cover and protect her fragile heart.
Tarnished and dented; a bauble of a bygone day. In a wooden cigar box; keepsakes both, with little more function than that. The stem fused to the casing, the workings have retired. But,
it has inspired me to find the link. The contents of the box play like a road map; clues to unravel the mystery that is my history. The key, worn and encrusted with years of dirt and oils from feeble fingers.
It lingers in my hand for a moment, its uncertainty secured. Papers, folded and bound with a frail rubber band line the bottom of the box. A visa document, possibly a first issue wrapped in a tissue to protect
what it meant to an old Polish immigrant determined to become all that America had to offer. Naturalization documents, meant to pronounce his acceptance of a lifestyle long sought, and their acceptance of him
as one of the free and brave. The camera buried amongst the treasures, bellows cracked and torn, a forlorn instrument with which a part of his life had been preserved. It all deserved a better fate, but it is too late to shed
a single tear from your eyes for its demise. The puzzle is splayed before you, the detective of your past. A torn swatch of a fabric, hues faded but shades of blue and red and white pressed between pages.
Finally, one last piece remains. A photograph. a dark and handsome young man; heavy jacket and a fedora pulled down across the brow. Intermingled with other similar folk unconcerned for their purpose.
But the subject stands tall. Proud. Posed to save this moment in memory, and upon this daguerreotype for long after. In the background, Lady Liberty stands strong. In his hand an American flag clutched to his chest.
A chain from buttonhole to vest pockets and a key as a fob, a cinch to keep his pride from bursting. It insinuates the only part missing was the watch that sat tucked close to his left hand. A trinket; a remembrance
of the father he had left behind in Igolomia, Poland to claim his dream. It remains strong in your own heart as the box that holds your Great-Grandfather’s declaration secure. You are sure the timepiece marked his life as well as your own.
The sun had arisen, a beacon offering illumination;giving shadows and then taking them away. A day like any other. Mothers preparing the children for school, before they head to work. Fathers making their commute to execute the completion of another day of living the American dream. It seemed a perfect day to stay that course. Of course, dreams can morph into nightmares that destroy, and every man, woman, girl and boy still strive to awaken from the promise so taken; shaken to our core and what’s more, feeling confused and abused, hated and welling with the same. But, not for long. The strong urge to strike was replaced by the urgent need to care and rescue; to eschew the lowly who strike like thieves in the night. The fight continues to remember the fallen, those called to serve and protect from this sect of humanity bathed in the blood of insanity.
The phoenix rises. From the ash and dust it flies upon eagles wings.
She was a remnant from his past; curvaceous, and petite. Adorned
in lace and a smile that would ricochet
through the alcoves of his heart.
Memories flooded his thoughts, invisible intrusions to a time-worn heart.
His eyes narrow as he maps every step
they had taken in this life. Recollections
and emotions spin at warp speed.
As his days dwindle, she haunts him.
A daughter born; a daughter torn.
Life coming and going in an instant.
One daughter coming into the world;
my mother born into the “comfort”
of their hearth and home,
two doors down from where her grandmother
had passed away on the same day.
A sadness unparalleled, a living hell.
My mother, the infant cleaved to
my grandmother’s breast in the upper window,
watching my Great-grandmother’s funeral
process past them in silence to the church
up the street. Victory and defeat fleeting.
A daughter born; a daughter torn.
Life coming and going in an instant.
He was Walt as I am Walt,
and his father was before him.
We shared so much, our ways
and such, as I carry on today.
He, a man quite good with wood
but didn’t say a lot.
Me, a man quite good with words,
but as with wood, quite not.
He taught me things,
he bought me things,
he wrought me with his demons.
And I was swell,
and I rebelled
and inherited his demons.
But, there was a man, despite his flaws
loved his family just because
we gave him joy. Every girl,
every boy, and Mom the glue
that mended us, nurtured and befriended us
and protected us ’til we knew better,
she’d make him a saint if we had let her.
But, Dad was rather quite assured
that mistakes he made would not be cured,
we learned to live within his world
until he up and left it. And now,
bereft it we hold onto all he gave.
I got his eyes, artistic style,
I got mom’s nose, her sighs, her smile,
I got his skill and sad addiction,
I embrace her warmth, his dereliction.
But all-in-all, one helluva guy
in his workshop in the sky.
I have his name, I have his fun,
100% my father’s son.
“Dad’s got cancer.”
Words as lifeless as I felt at that moment.
My sister, Daddy’s baby girl, her voice
shaken from its confidence.
And I in exile deteriorating in my own
self-absorbtion, choking on words so harsh.
And words so healing; a feeling of redemption
in my reply. Wiping an eye or two,
and through with my vitriol; back in control
of the emotions so frayed. Four months
were all that were afforded me. It awarded
me a chance to reconcile for the while he had.
Two Walts contrasted; reunited while Dad lasted.