In Honor of My Father


The Nap

He lays on his back on the cold, hard, blue linoleum floor after

the midday dinner of homegrown roast beef, potatoes, wilted

lettuce salad, hot coffee, coconut topped cake.  His left arm

forms a right angle at the elbow as the back of his wrist rests

on his forehead, touching the slight curliness of his not quite

black hair.  His left leg stretched out straight, right one drawn

up, knee jutting out.  The sleeves of his worn, pale blue dress

shirt rolled up; his overalls show signs of wear and washing.

Every day after dinner he naps in the same spot in this same

position for exactly fifteen minutes before returning to the field.

 

My father.

 

Seventeen years after his death, one day as I napped, slowly

driving off, astonishment stuck.  There I lay exactly as my

father used to so many years ago, my left arm forming a right

angle, wrist on my forehead, left leg stretched out straight, right

one drawn up, knee jutting out.  I remember not just in heart

and mind.

 

The body always knows.

 

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Taken at the top of Mt. Evans in Colorado when I was a child.

 

 

Sunday Poem–A Life


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I wrote the first blog post about this in February, a second a few weeks later.  The following poem I wrote a week ago but never posted:  too upset, too sad, too filled with regrets I could have no way fixed because I did not even know all the story.  He remained unconscious for two months from late January until March 22.  It seems strange that the memories of a life I lived so long ago, mostly forgotten, could surge into so many waking moments now years later.  Life:  always filled with wonder, surprises.

yesterday we put his body in the ground

the wind blew through the trees

whispering green spring, beauty

yesterday we put his body in the ground

the man I loved, beautiful mahogany velvet

dazzled the world with his smile

yesterday we put his body in the ground

my daughter’s father, standing with family

some we had never seen before, worldwide

yesterday we put his body in the ground

watched a life flash by, slides from baby

to our life long ago, other lives and children

yesterday we put his body in the ground

family, friends, two of his children

a life struck down, too suddenly, too soon

In honor of the life of Kenneth A. Mowoe

You will not be forgotten, your memory lives on with me, your family, your children and grandchildren, your friends.  Peace.  Love.

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Destino


Week two of the prose poetry class:

“It is a blessing to live out your destino.”  Julia Alvarez

Long ago, in the hot summer, I could hear the corn grow at night with the windows open in northwest Missouri.  Rolling hills of corn and soybeans still clad the dark brown earth left by glaciers thousands of years ago.  So much time has gone without my returning to this land:  colleges in different states, marriages, jobs in cities.

My father lived ninety years on this farm his Swiss grandfather homesteaded.  He yearned for distant lands, to explore, to learn.  He loved the West, endless space, rugged mountains, canyonlands, wildness.  When it snowed too much for school, he loaded us in the car, turned wheelies, and headed for Kansas City.  His yearning to be a doctor died when very young–the only child left at home, caring for a diabetic mother, recovering from a failed youthful marriage before he met Mom.

He gave me his love of questioning, traveling, reading, trying the untried, a pride in the land and work, and a sense of wonder.  This night, after shoveling out from a dangerous blizzard, I sit in front of a fire, write on a Western canyon rim, look at his parade saddle and the photo of the farm for which he felt so much pride, and cry:  my destino.

Rim Rider


I ride the rim on Rosie,

writing stories in my mind.

The neighbor’s husky howls.

Rosie listens, watches,

moves away from the canyon rim.

I write of long lost lovers,

names forgotten,

smiling brown faces,

drifting through my dreams.

I ride the rim on Rosie,

writing stories in my mind.

The bobcat climbs the canyon wall.

Rosie’s ears move,

her body tenses.

I write of childhood memories,

places loved and lost,

of family joys and sorrows,

Mom’s singing while she worked,

Dad’s napping on the blue linoleum  floor.

I ride the rim on Rosie,

writing stories in my mind.

Isabella runs past, bunny hunting, barking.

Rosie wants to run, to race, is held.

I write of fragrant fields of saffron,

endless Thai seas of blue and green,

of lands I’ve loved , the Navaho Nation, the Llano Estacado.

I ride the rim on Rosie,

writing stories in my mind.

The Journey versus the Destination


Until yesterday, I always thought I was a destination person.  Set goals, act, get it all done quickly and efficiently, achieve!!  Suddenly, while driving home from Austin, realization struck in  the form  of wild flowers.  Traveling to Austin, I oohed and awed so much over the blue bonnets, daisies, gaillardia, and others I did not recognize that my daughter finally exclaimed, “Mom, you have said that over and over, really!”  I asked, “Don’t you think they are beautiful?!”  I could hardly believe her response, “Yes, but they’re just flowers,”  Just flowers!!!!  I wanted to stop and look closely at them, to take photos, to touch them.  Instead I said to myself, “You can do that on then way home.” But I didn’t. From Austin to Marble Falls, the road was too winding with no adequate place to stop.  Besides my daughter slept blissfully beside me on the passenger side; I didn’t want to awaken her.  Furthermore, she had previously emphasized the point that we needed to get home buy a certain tine.  Tomorrow, my grandson had school and I had to go to work.  It was a nine hour drive. For hours from just east of Llano past San Angelo, I kept thinking I’d stop.  The flower species and colors changed.  I saw other people stopped, taking photos and touching the flowers.  As I drove it hit me:  my personally preferred form of travel involves wandering.  Yes, I know the destination, but I want to see the places, the people along the way, to stop, to explore what holds my interests.  It is the journey, the process, that truly enthralls me.  This is the reason, too, why without a lot of thought, I chose one route to Austin and another back.  Curiosity, a love of differences, of change, of variety. I never stopped. I kept driving until my daughter awakened just before Sterling City and we switched drivers.  By then the flowers were fewer and farther between. And it hit me that this too was my father’s preferred form of travel.  He lived on the same farm for 90 years and in the same house for 80, but he loved trips.  Every year we took at least one.  We always had a destination, well, sort of, but we stopped whenever and wherever we found something fascinating and wonderful.  As he would have put it, “You never know.  You might find something in an expected place and want to stay there longer.” Since I took no photos on this trip, I decided to share photos of the flowers I found blooming in my xeroscape garden at home when I arrived.  Yes, they are lovely and I love them, but I will wonder for weeks what I missed along the road.