Elegy for my father – by Ann Randlette

 

I stop on your gravel parking strip
stand outside your house
try to slow my breathing
I hear only
the ticking of my truck engine.

I approach the threshold
no blood spatter, no brain matter.
Your pink plastic tulips
grace the front flowerbed.

This morning’s paper, rolled and rubber banded,
waits for you to step out in your blue tattered bathrobe,
stretched out leather slippers
cigarette ash dropping
to pluck it from the doormat.
Welcome.

Opening the front door, I inhale
smoky fireplace, tobacco-tinged dad odor.
‘Hello’ escapes before I know it
my ritual of warning and greeting.
I’m coming in, drink that drink up.
Hide that bottle. Let’s not fight.

The news not blaring from the brown plastic kitchen radio.
The TV not booming out the sports.
No distant murmur of 1940’s music from the bedroom.

I open cupboards, drawers, the fridge,
touch bottles of cream sherry, a carton of whipped cream,
jars of pickled beets, a can of Spam.

Your butt-sprung armchair is a still island
surrounded by a sea of Wall Street Journals.
I lift spare change off the dresser,
a penny, a quarter, a dime, a nickel.

In the front hallway closet
I put on your faded army jacket,
scented by chainsaw fuel, cigarette smoke
and your years of wear
in the piney outdoors.

I walk out,
finding a nail, some string,
a pencil stub, a matchbook.
You, still in these pockets.

 

 

 

Ann has been writing for about 10 years, but has only recently begun submitting
work to magazines. This is her first published poem. She is a healthcare worker in Olympia, Washington, newly retired from over 30 years of cardiac ultrasound scanning. She also does collage, drawing and painting.  She attends a Poetry Writing Class
taught by poet David Wagoner at the Hugo House in Seattle, Washington.