I long to smell my dad again,

a freshly lit match,

faint sulphur and burn

and new cigarette smoke.

          We never had the chance

          to say goodbye.

I hear his gleeful, high

Heee Heeeeee!  and rush

of shout-talking,

while he sits with one ankle

propped up on the other knee

and twirls the curl

on his forehead

with his fingers.

          His hair had turned

          from dark brown

  to mostly gray.

I see him

leaning forward

from the waist,

striding

toward the stadium

with a baseball program

sticking halfway out

of his back pocket.

          He scored each inning

          with a pencil stub

          on the scorecard 

          against his knee,

          while cracking peanuts from their shells and

          jiggling them around in his palm

         before siphoning them into his mouth

          and muttering about the radio

          announcers’ remarks that he listened

          to through one earphone.

          Meanwhile he reached way back underneath his seat

          periodically for his plastic cup of beer.  

If only he could

tie the shoes of

my girls.

Shake my

husband’s hand.

Call me on the

phone.

          We met for a beer once

          and laughed about the time

          we got lost on a backpacking

          trip.  We had to hitch a ride back

          to our car with a man and woman in 

          their van.  As it turns out, they

          were arguing about whether

          or not they should pick us up.

          She was against it, apparently.

In the days after his death,

I went out to the garage

and I buried my face

in his dark green

fleece jacket,

breathing deeply,

all my senses

seeking his essence.

          And lo, 

          a fat baby bird

          landed by the open

          garage door and 

          hopped 

          close to me,  

          chirping,

          whistling,

          delicately

          inquiring,

          assuring,

          up and down,

          head cocked,

          a whole conversation. 

          It was my dad,

          speaking comfort

          to me.

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