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).