Me, Dad, and my Big Sister.
|In my whole life, I only ever saw my father move fast,
This came back to me, long after leaving home
each movement, measured and methodical,
as if an inner choreographer
a graceful step, and the tyranny
It never occurred to me when young.
I never wondered the why of it...
Grown up, and looking back
of course I realized the absolute control
that ruled his motion
nothing ever out of place
no waste of any energy.
I remember reading recollections
Of Dimaggio in the outfield
how he'd roam the turf out there
gliding, like a clipper ship
smooth as silk
a measured power
calm and cool, efficiently
while all around
explosions of activity
rocked the storied stadium...
we were like that.
a family of busy nervous energy
a constant buzz of life's expression
in and out of control, meanwhile
this dance of his went on
and never faltered.
Of course it was a dance of will
more iron than a battleship
our little rowboats,
following in its wake...
And now, I know the question
hanging in between the lines
poised upon and up, 'en pointe'
(while bows, batons and mouthpiece brass
crescendos in an orchestral pit)
What was the one time?
...the one and only time, the pattern broke
A lazy Sunday afternoon, it was
my father in the backyard
messing with a fishing rod, and tackle
preparing for the season
While I was dozing in the driveway
breathing in the camomile
listening to the sounds of summer
buzzing in the shrubbery
planning out the day's adventures
when from the kitchen door
my mother burst, all frantic
in her panic
seems my sister'd set her blouse afire
while reaching up above the stove...
And time stopped.
My mother's scream still echoed in the air
when a blur went by me
of parental warp-speed
the deed was done
the fire put out
a lightning strike
and it was over.
Eventually, and cautiously
I wandered up the porch
and through the kitchen door
to find my sister damp-towel wrapped
(the blouse a casualty)
but so fast had come the fireman
there was not a mark upon her,
dazed and dizzy
and still re-living
the mortality of the moment
(my mother collapsed and sobbing)
at the table....
But all was well.
and of my father?
no-where to be found.
Then I heard from the front parlor
that stately measured sound
(I knew so well)
a pipe knocked against an ash tray
the efficient 'snap' of newsprint
(no doubt, the sporting section)
while the radio sang the news...
am I like that?
only if I concentrate like anything!
The iron of my will is forged
for other freedoms.