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my parents surprise 25th wedding anniversary party

what my father said

It took me 15 years to write this poem. It honors my father who was diagnosed with and died from melanoma when I was in college.  This poem began as a way to grieve his death but soon became too difficult to write so I put it away until I was able to greet my loss. The poem is written in my father's voice.  A perceived observation of his last days, it speaks of life as a gift to be enjoyed, an inheritance reaching back through generations and the love we pass on. 


What My Father Said

I stare at a blue eye, thin lips

that used to smile without cracks.

I watch a veined hand smooth

my white hair, stiff

with sleep.  In this mirror, it is true.

My skin is of soil, it is more

than I need.

I fathered seven children, and you

second to the last, ask me for answers

I will not know.

I feel only my blistered bones

dig through flesh until they can go

no more.  It is rich

inside this room,

I watch the shape of your nose

as you move to kneel by my side

with water to stop my thirst.

I see the gold hoops through

the holes of your ears

that I have pierced.

I have given you two beautiful hands.

I hear you speak

with my mother's words.

I drink.  Then reach out

to touch the lines of your palms

that have cupped your face

and share in their journey.

You have my eyes.

You know.

It is for your mother that I want

to live. It is for you, who

will live without me.

You see now why I loved silently.

You will come to understand all

which I leave you, in one gift

dating back to 1905 on a wood dining table,

my birth.

© 2010 molly jane burns

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