In that old photograph
I see my father confident, full of purpose,
stepping down the street and dressed oh so smartlyâ€”
see the youthful hopefulness
prior to all that followedâ€¦
wars, divorces, children abandonedâ€”
those eager years when all
efforts to stride along pragmatically
seem to propel us onto solid footing.
Yet we all know the earth rumbles and shakes
leaving cracks in its surfaceâ€”
ready to swallow us wholeâ€¦
and I am left to stumbleâ€”
wandering through tremors and aftershocks
in search of grounding.
Those days were all about
trying to be good,
trying to do it right.
Each in our age-order position
in that line-up time.
Too many donâ€™ts, too many noâ€™s
and the terror of not even knowing.
Yet there were times, Iâ€™m sure
when fear was put to bedâ€”
times when just being together
Looking for the plane
heard way-off in the skyâ€”
wanting to earn that nickel.
â€œI see it â€“ there it is!â€
Small fingers pointing skyward
as a silver speck trailing white
made its way across our blue.
Trying so hard to be the good girl.
And still you vanished into the ether.
You came from that generation of dichotomies
when lives were built upon suretyâ€”
So when pieces to your puzzle did not fit
the whole was scrambled and left in disarray.
Three times you tried for completionâ€”
past war and divorce and dark secretâ€”
yet each puzzle was scuttled and left for another.
Bequeathed a sense of the unfinished,
I come from that scattered pastâ€”
those missing pieces, diverted interests,
pieces flung in angerâ€”
striving still to interlock segments
into a bordered picture of wholeness.
We go through our lives
gathering the many loose ends, bringing
them back to order by joining them neatly into
a tidy ball of string.Â Something in the savingâ€”all
that careful windingâ€”gives us comfort and quiets
vague fears of uncertainty.Â Neatly kept in the drawer of
the past we do not hear the mice of today nibbling away
â€”stealing bits and pieces for the newer nests of tomorrow.
Yet in our moments of need when we remember
ourselves back to that dependable neat
ball, we find ourselves surprisedâ€”
the frayed and tangled twine heaped in an
unrecognizable, jumbled snarl.