Today marks a very difficult anniversary for me and my family. It's the day we kids lost our compass and my mother lost the love of her life. Almost twenty years on now, I'm still making my peace with the sense of spiritual drift that followed.
My father isn't physically here any more to keep me on the right path, and I'm not sure that he'd approve of many of the choices I've made in this life. He does still inhabit my dreams and memory, however, and I try to believe that his spirit guides me in its own way from afar.
I wrote the following poem much later. It wasn't in response to his specific death, but a series of funerals that played out over too short a time thereafter. Sometimes our holidays are taken from us unexpectedly, and we're forced to separate ourselves from the general jubilation and reflect on realities tough to face at any time of year.
I'm sorry it's not very cheery seasonal fare, but I'll be back to my spirited self in the days to come. In the mean time, grant me this indulgence to honor my father, his life and his death.
by Francis C. Scudellari
"Poor Jon," false, fed, falls.
"Dear man," trite, trim, trickles.
"Dear Jon," pathetic, pours.
Pours down ... down ... down into
The outstretched palms;
The stiffened arms
draped in once-worn wool;
An ill-fitted suit.
A mumbled man;
a whispered woman;
a chided child—
Each future glimpsing shades
in the past reflected pool—
Pause by ... nod to ... turn from
The powdered head;
The cracked pale skin;
The straying hair;
The fire doused eyes.
His cat'ract sight blinded,
Jon no longer to search hollows
of a time-tricked, thread-bare mind,
driven by fickle winds, flitting visions
to roam longing lost shores,
to wade through ebbing dreams.
His crooked corpse numbed,
Jon's withered arms no more to reach;
the Christ crossed legs to step;
the age arched trunk to bend
toward the milk lade earth,
the mother clay it craved.
His buried soul freed,
Jon's arked covenant lost,
not in long labored flight to Remember,
but in the rested peace of Forget.
"Poor, poor Jon."
His wince answers the toothless smile.
She fingers closed the deep set eyes.
She places petals in cold hands.
Darkened, dear drops
Water-severed flowers mocking
Feed the black stream buoying
A weathered shell embarked toward dust.