Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Friends by Default

Here's day thirty's submission for NaPoWriMo (a poem a day for the month of April in honor of National Poetry Month). This is the last day of April, and I've done something I thought was impossible for me – write a poem a day for a month. I wondered at the onset of this project if I had the discipline and the creativity to pull it off, but the people who stuck with me and read the posts (and commented to let me know they were there) helped me expect enough of myself that I showed up to the computer each evening. And the creativity – what to write about and how to write it at least passably well – was a surprise every night. The most valuable piece of that was this jewel I found right here in my pocket: that  my daily life is filled with moments perfect for poems. I think I'm paying way more attention to my daily doings as we drop into May than I was when I stumbled onto April, and that is indeed a gift. Thanks again for joining me. I'll try to continue to post these, if not nightly, at least frequently.

Friends by Default

We weren’t all that close growing up,
but our parents were best friends,
so that made us friends by default, I guess.
We played together when we were little,
a few times is all, the two of them and me
while our moms and dads drank cocktails and told jokes.

I grew up first – four years older than him,
six older than her – and in my adolescent wisdom
blamed mom and dad for everything that was wrong.
I cleaned that house thoroughly
throwing out anything my parents liked,
including their friends, and their friends’ children.

It was after my siblings and I scattered from the Indiana corn
like field mice running from fire,
his father died, and mine was available and alone.
He became the good son we never were,
he overlooked the long list of my father’s failings
with a grace I could never touch.

They spent a lot of time fishing together.
Who knows what all they said in that boat floating on a northern lake,
but the words hardened into something solid,
and after dad turned his Cadillac up the last country road,
we became friends again, and he taught me to remember
my father as more light than dark.

At least he used to… until the disease broke
his memories into jumbled rubble.
His sister called today in tears:
they moved him into another home
because his roommate struck him –
who knows what was said in that boat without water?
He didn’t recognize his wife that day,
but he knew his sister.

I have a trip planned: in a few weeks I’ll visit
them their mom, his wife.
I’m not looking forward to it, no, not at all.
but my midwestern roots apparently grew deeper
than I ever expected: my mirror tells me I need to go –
for him, for me, for our dad. Our dad.
I wonder what we’ll say
or if there will even be a boat.

1 comment:

Fred Bailey said...

Pat, As a poet (I cannot say 'fellow' out of humility) I offer humble kudus in regard to the incredible feat of a poem a day and especially in respect to the work you've posted above. Ya bastard, ya made my face leak!

Well done. Fred