Tuesday, October 16, 2012

NAPOWRIMO Day 26 - Elegy

OK, this was a tough one for me. I was going to write a less emotional elegy, but this one came to me. A lot of the men in my life have died young. My middle son died in college, and my Dad died when I was seven. But I knuckled under, as my Dad would say, and here is an elegy to him. The narrative voice sounds young, as I was when he died.

Elegy for Kenny

Your thumb bent backwards, hyperflexed,
when you held your cigarette
between thumb and forefinger.

Once you yelled at a teenage boy
who ogled my young sister and me
as we ran through the sprinkler
in our bathing suits. Anger raised
up in you and blew a storm of commands
at that kid...."don't you ever....I'll...."
Such fury in your protection.

You were a mason - your fez suited you.
You had many friends - sometimes
blackberry wine parties led to joking
and to headaches in the morning.

My sister and I practiced wrestling jumps on you.
Every time we landed on your chest
a giant harumph of a groan emerged
from deep in your lungs.

We rode on your shoulders -young princesses
on an elephant ride. Nothing could possibly
hurt us up there. Our kingdom was small
and very safe.

Once you struggled with our car as it slid down
the driveway when the parking brake failed.
The strength of your body, arms, legs
slowed it, but not even your power
could stop it from crossing the street.

You taught me safety around our house.
How to turn off the window fan before
I walked by. You used fear tactics to teach
the real danger of a lawn mower blade by
placing one of my wooden blocks underneath.

You built radios, patios, rooms, dividers, fireplaces,
kitchens, you fixed TVs, taught Mom how to sew a dress.
You created something every day. You
cooked, Bar-B-Q'd, helped friends, led men,
saved children, poured your heart
into everything you did.

Your heart had a murmur that kept you
out of the army and stole you from me
when I was young and needed you.

You were soft-hearted, strong, weak, smart
and you were my Dad.

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