As Gentle As Days Are - Poem by Patti Masterman
He was all Madras shirts, when I was young
That later became checkered plaids, and the rare paisley;
He drank Coors beer, and fished his trotlines
With Catfish Charley, and little shrimps.
He chewed Red Man tobacco, and smoked
Walter Raleigh Cherrywood in his pipes.
He was so much the man, of my childhood;
Fierce as necessity dictated;
But gentle as the day was long, if he had the choice.
All these details now I remember about him,
Coming back to me like a slow train from nowhere;
Though martyr'd by death, as men necessarily must be,
I had a dream of him afterwards, wearing his only pure white shirt;
And I dreamed that shirt had became his philatory; his reliquary,
Before the burning candle of his incipient Sainthood, in memory.
Awakening, I went and located that shirt miraculously,
And put it somewhere it could not be discarded
By mistake, for safekeeping.
I remembered he had turned into a child again
Just before he died, but only on the cusp of his final sickness,
And I reflected how life can be kind sometimes;
Not forcing us to mother or father our own parents,
Until after we have raised children of our own,
So that we would remember how to be kind and gentle,
With creatures less competent and self reliant than ourselves;
Gentle as the day was long, if we had the choice.
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