Poems From The Porch
September 2, 1934
Hummingbirds are territorial.
Instead of drinking peacefully together,
they chase each other away from the feeder.
Today is my dad’s 86th birthday.
He died when he was 54.
“My lovely daughter.”
His final words to me.
My heart smiles and cries with the thought of it.
On the floor spinning around, moving effortlessly together, I knew it was our last dance—
he was such a good dancer.
I also remember the time he said, “Don’t do it”—
the young girl telling her daddy that women in the Northeast
don't wear makeup, and now neither did she,
but back in the South, she felt compelled to decorate her face.
A validation a daughter can always treasure.
The legacy of music--my favorite of Daddy's gifts.
I feel it living in me and behold it in the lives of my sons.
Only in my imagination
can I see Daddy bursting with pride and admiration as they perform.
A passion for sports, a good steak, and fine dining--
loves of my father and the man I married.
They are different men in many ways,
but do we unconsciously seek out the familiar in a mate?
Years separate them though they were born a day apart.
There are stories of my dad that are not memories.
The young Cajun boy was punished in school for speaking his native French
and the same little trickster would pick out the corn ears that were easiest to shuck
and leave the difficult ones for his mother.
He didn’t teach me to speak French because
the value of it was conditioned out of him.
Daddy had his problems, too,
but I won’t go into them here because
first, we all have our problems;
second, my love for him covers a multitude of his sins, and
most importantly, third, his problems don’t define him.
Today I honor him by letting myself feel a small portion of
the great well of grief that I have stored in my heart
for the loss of him.
Instead of chasing the memories away,
I am allowing myself to rest on the feeder and drink deeply of them,
to be nourished by them.
This territory is my own.