When the immortal became mortal…

I was eight, maybe nine, and it should have

changed my world to see that my father was

a mere mortal – flesh and bones and blood,

but it only made him more of a superman

to me, impervious to torn flesh and oozing

blood – deep red and opaque seeping from

the gash on his knuckle, layers of skin torn

away by a trowel as he gardened and I played

nearby; “Look,” was all he said and I peered

into his wound to see the bright white of his

bone exposed, a little knob of pearl between

the serrated opening, he bent his finger

and it danced, and for once I said nothing,

for almost fifty years; such a display should

cure the myth of paternal immortality,

but it’s effect was the exact opposite.

Always on second base…

lighteningAs a young boy
standing in my front yard
that doubled as our diamond
perspiring after a game with friends
on the hottest summer day of August,
we were scattered to our homes
by a threatening storm from the west
mounting up as a wall,
sending streaks of lightening;
that first awed, then frightened,
and I was left alone
when a cold wind struck me,
froze me in my place,
standing on second base,
with a chill that shivered my skin,
and still does.

All that is right…

ladybug.jpgHow inconvenient the pause
which made everyone stop
for a child’s whimsy because
she saw a ladybug on top

of a black-eyed Susan just now
and with hands behind her back
she stumbled to a stop to spy,
wide-eyed I heard her purr,

as adults shifted impatiently
around the wonderful youth
cursing awe as she aimlessly
worshiped all that is right.

Beginning to remember…

rememberThey say that you start to remember when you
start to speak; my question is does it matter if one never
shuts up? I’ve run on and on since I could and plan to
continue until I can’t (and even then I imagine a good
fight to get the last word in).

So, if speaking is memory, volume is excitement,
slurring too much of a good thing, and I’ve been
told I don’t know how to whisper, then my plan is to
talk death to death with determination which is the
Irish in me, don’t you know.

Folding laundry…

When it’s past late but not yet early,
she stands aside a table searching her
laundry basket, folding towels and
matching socks by feel and fabric in the
dark and imagines all her children – all
at once – all now so far from her and
they’re all safe; it was so long ago
and everything else has changed,
the house is gone but she can still
hear the tap of their feet sneaking to
one another after bedtime, conversations
of no consequence crisscrossing dinners,
the splash of baths and the wet tangles
of exhausted heads on her shoulder,
and damp towels dropped anywhere,
gathered to wash and dry and be folded
in the dark alongside dozens and dozens
of socks matched by feel and fabric.

The smells of home…

Do you remember what it was like
to know your mother was baking,
or doing laundry or scrubbing floors
by the way the house smelled?

One aroma drew you out of your
room to sample, the other drove
you to the closet to add something
you forgot and needed clean again,
and the third kept you away fearing
you’d be reminded how difficult
the work was and realize you don’t
appreciate clean floors nearly as
much as sampling baked goods.

How to get to sleep…

Of the hundreds, maybe
thousands of suggestions
about how to get to sleep

it is obvious that when
one is tired and contented
sleep is very welcomed,

but when either or both
are lacking or too much
present sleep is difficult

to come by – too tired
and restlessness prevails,
too contented and sheer

excitement wins out;
therefore it is essential
to avoid excess in either

at all costs in order to
get to sleep – be sufficiently
fatigued to enjoy rest

and refuse melancholy
to the extent that one
is gratified with what

one has instead of anxious
for what one doesn’t
and maybe never will

have. With this balance,
held in delicate tension,
one will get to sleep, well.

Zigging and zagging…

Davey and I spent the days riding
our bikes from the block where we lived
to the park to play baseball to the
swimming pool to meet more friends
where everyone gathered, and back home
when the street lights came on to
repeat the cycle the next day and the next;

with our gloves slid over the handle bars,
towels slung over our shoulders,
zigging and zagging from pavement to
gravel to sidewalk to grass to garages,
exhausted and straight to the refrigerator
until scolded away by mothers well
prepared for the hunger and dirt and sweat
and laundry and stories of young boys,

only interrupting with short questions of
Is your bike put away? and Did you win?
which didn’t matter all that much – Win
at what? at riding our bikes or never
running out of air in our lungs or at a
baseball game meant to be played but

never really ending or wearing the same
pair of blue jeans the most days in a row
until your Mom takes them away when
she sneaks into your room after you’ve
collapsed into bed to live another day.

And they threw candy at us…

Aluminum chairs with nylon bands
stretched in their lattice weave,
blue and green and sticky and soft,
we carried to the sidewalk of Main
under the red, white and blue
banners draped on light posts
made of speckled concrete, stout
and immovable, and sat and waited
and fidgeted until we heard
a band playing, horns blowing,
people we didn’t know sitting
on the backseat of convertibles
waving like we were old friends
driving 4, 5 or 6 miles per hour,
and a clown faking a smile and laugh,
until the rumble of a fire truck
turned the corner and we stood,
eagerly, hearing parental cautions,
begging for the siren to sound,
and the firemen threw candy at us.