Father And Daughter For Jean - Poem by Daniel Brick
There were many rehearsals for this day.
A dear friend, some years ago, fixed
his blue eyes on mine. 'Burying your father
is a profound experience, ' he said, then
the blue light drained out of his eyes.
'Losing him was pain enough.' He fell
into silence, like a singer, who, at the end
of his endurance, has to leave the stage.
But my friend roused himself, 'Be sure
to make the most of what remains.'
And then the silence covered both of us.
Some rehearsals disguised themselves as outings,
simply time together. I remember walking through
the woods, we lost track of time, and suddenly
the pall of darkness swept over us. I could not
see my father. I stretched out my hand. Nothing.
I waved my hand back and forth, as if I could
wipe away the night. Then I touched his shoulder
and felt a current of life flow from him into me!
It would always be like that: his life spilling forth,
connecting with me, becoming me. That dark walk
taught me something that did not fit in words.
It could not be spoken, only felt and felt again.
Other rehearsals have been scary. Once he was
so sick, he did want want to talk. My mother
and I brought him food, but he ate nothing, just
lay there with eyes half-shut. Then as I watched,
he fell into a fitful sleep... 'Jean honey,
okay, you go to your bed now, I'll be all right.'
At first I thought I was dreaming, but it was
really his voice, I hugged him awkwardly, and he
gently stroked my hair. 'Sweet dreams, honey.'
Some of the rehearsals seemed to be about me.
but they were about us both. The day I took my degree
I lost all confidence in a flash of doubt.
The whole enterprise was about to collapse.
I was not supposed to see him until hours later,
but there he was, standing in the half-opened
doorway. He gave me a gift wrapped in red paper
as well as he could do it. I still have
that little gift, and his strength. He gave me
pieces over time, now I inherit the rest.
Rehearsal time is over, performance time begins.
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