Friday, August 17, 2012

And now for something completely different

Back in my college days I used to write poetry. I hadn't really tried to sit down to write a poem in nearly 25 years, but lately I've been trying to exhume the muse. A lot has gone on in the last month and as I tried to sort it out in my mind last night, a poem struggled to emerge. I present it here, with the hope that Blogger doesn't completely mess with the intended formatting. I hope you enjoy it. If this doesn't work for you, remember that we often have a more prolific poet in the house:

August 16

It began with a month of windshields and detailed observation of cornfields in various states of distress,
 indicating less than one would hope in
    the 102 miles between suburban St. Paul and Danbury, a town you pass through on the way
       to your initial destination

First, the joy of the children as they complete their disco Jesus hymn singing among the tamaracks
   in the small church by Webb Lake, with the meander of the county highway that leads to towns you’d barely noticed
   as the time approaches to retrieve your son some 52 miles away, who is clean and reverent despite the condition of his overnight bag, containing a merit badge for camping and a dozen tales of derring-do

You’ve marked these paths before – Augusts in ten-year increments have
  brought you back to your ancestral home to eat fried fish and digest mortality –

Dad clenching his hands in literal death grip on the hospital bed some 22 years before, not ready

 Mom fading a decade later, the cancer removed but with less than a week to enjoy the cure

  August arrives in warmth and often leaves with a hint of chill, a cold taste that you’ve sensed every time a telephone rings, because the voice on the other end of the line is hushed, again, beneath the              
    plangent tone

  The morning paper reports a missing girl, 3, has drowned in a canal in Danbury, the town you passed through just weeks before without a second thought, her tale complete before it begins

We’ve said goodbye before in August

The phone rings during your 3 p.m. meeting to discuss alternative website presentation of portable generators
   and when the number comes up on the screen, it’s your sister and you fear another goodbye is

The meeting ends and you duck into an empty cubicle to return the call – a massive cerebral
   hemorrhage has struck and felled your Aunt, nearing 80, though she’s kept alive long enough
     so her family can assemble and say goodbye, her tale complete

Tears flow in Danbury and St. Anna, two Wisconsin towns six hours apart, for lives separated by 347 miles
         and three quarters of a century
   We say goodbye in August, sensing the chill


W.B. Picklesworth said...

Death is kind to no one
Regardless of the race one's run.
It plunders life, then memory.
Dear God, please comfort Mr. D.

C said...

Mr D:

Thanks. It is hard but the love of family really helps. Glad we could be together last week.

Cousin Dan

Mr. D said...

I am, too, Dan. Very much so.

Gino said...

grandma was 1st of 12. "The Leonards" they were called.

basically, an enthic group unto themselves, with a very tribal attitude and identity...
there were Leonards (however low they may be, and usually were), and then there was everybody else.

I am a Leonard.
it is my first identity.
we said goodbye to the last of the twelve (my Aunt Donna) last week.
needless to say, its been a contemplative week for me.

in short...
Yeah, bro...
I know where yer at.
Prayers (again!) be with you.

Mr. D said...

Thanks, Gino. My aunt passed away last night. She was fond of saying that we should "storm the gates of Heaven" with prayer. And I've no doubt that she did just that.

It's coincidental, I suppose, that so many sad events in my family's history have happened in August, but we've come to dread it.