Clifton King

Rookie (December 24,1943 / Long Beach, California)

Father's Final Words - Poem by Clifton King

So this is what it all comes down to:
the three of us, knee deep in the sea,
hold hands like school children
crossing the street. Small, indifferent
waves break around us, their white froth
mimicking the clouds above. My sister
offers up words I rarely hear from her,
addressing God as if she knows Him.

I dip my hand into father’s ashes.
He slips between my fingers, weightless
as an evening breeze off the Pacific;
the same somber tone of ash spewed forth
from Vesuvius. But only we three
will remember this day, this scattering
of memories, this mixing of tears
and ash and ocean, this goodbye.

So this is what it all comes down to:
eight pounds of cremains swirl
in the ebb tide, and we listen to the sea
for father’s final words.


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, July 8, 2010



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