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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.
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,
© 2010 molly jane burns
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