Falling asleep in the afternoon,
I forget that my father has died.
I anticipate him calling me up,
asking me how my writing is going,
and am I thinking about having children.
Making a joke or two. “Don’t worry,
Mom and I will never be lonely.”
Then I fall into deeper sleep, he
loses me, traveling in his car, the green
chevrolet, to old baseball fields,
which are sweet with rye grass
and lush stadiums, his pals throwing
him the ball — “Give me some pepper, Al.”
I came back to my house. Left my mother in New Jersey —
highway 280 and the slick ice. Finding
a parking spot near the hospital, near enough so we could
walk in the cold. The stars describe the clarity of pain.
They are signals. From the eyes of a stranger.
Signals traversing many worlds. Like skiers across
high slopes of white dust. Where will I look for
you? In which world of beauty?
Sound of my father. He seems
real. More real than when he lived. The sound of
my father’s voice. The sound of him, the feel of
him. In the house. Feeling him.
Feeling my father’s life. Breaking down and crying.
Breaking down crying. Throwing the cup onto the floor.
Then crying. Curtains letting in the spring wind.
Light across the face. Study the lips, the eyes,
my own cheekbones. Still alive myself? This spring
seems so clear, clearest of all springs. Blue raw
air, and resonant faces, too much depth
to name. Sources that have no description enter
people this April. Lawns of sound. Lawns of sound.
Lawns of sound.
Absence Of My Father
No poetry for the word.
No poetry for the gone.
For the bay of lights and wooden houses
whirling in night
under the plane’s wing.
No word for the bell, no sound
for the bird. No hand for the
little girl, questioning and looking
me in the eye. The sphere of sadness
ascends and descends ,up and down the
ladder of luminosity. No fame for
his fallen life, heavy, broken, full
of earthly knowledge. No light for
the uncaptured, no song for the
prisoners. No wisdom for the
speaking woman. No weeping for the
broken mothers. A wing from a body.
A plane rises up and plummets.
One city to the next. Circles of
lights in the dark whirl before my
closed eyes. Pendulous worlds of earth
which have let you go.

These poems originally appeared in a chapbook by Judy Katz-Levine called Tending, available from Firefly Press, 23 Village Street, Somerville, Massachusetts 02143 ($7.25 paper).

— Ed.