He died one June twelve years ago, and each
June since I think of him-- my father--of
The cabin perched on Lake McCullough’s beach
That should belong to me and those I love—
These three young children far beyond his reach.
While hoping ne’er for sentience above,
As years elapse, I wonder nonetheless
What buried truths those wooden walls possess.
In 1993, two decades past
When he and three best childhood friends explored
Wisconsin’s northern shores, their joys amassed
With boyish antics’ glee, my father poured
His stock into this home, which overcast
The isle on which he’d once trekked fish-filled fjords.
Therein, he’d reminisce and drape the star
Flecked nights with Styx, forever yearning far.
I knew him almost thirty years, from when
He plucked me from the orphan agent’s hold
Until I left him, cancerous again
Expiring in his hospice room, grief scrolled
Upon his skin. And when he died, I then
Acknowledged one sole truth I’d never told.
I knew him almost thirty years, and yet
He was a stranger whom I’d never met.
He reveled in his jokester pranks when I
Was young: baked mud-cakes into flowerpots,
Swapped golf balls with the soaps he’d drive sky-high.
He tried, but sent me out with hair in knots,
My sky-blue frocks reversed. And yet, I’d vie
For favor; prized his praise and rued failed shots.
He valued intellect, deemed losing worst,
And so, I recognized no place but first.
But he was also fatalistic, pledged
He’d die when I was young. And then he gave
Me all his keepsakes: fichus, starfish wedged
‘Tween photo frames. He tried, but ne’er forgave
My mother’s faults and tirelessly re-dredged
My own, withdrawing when I felt least brave
And needed him the most. Then months ‘fore death,
And grandson’s birth, he shunned me with one breath.
Each June, remembering his heart’s own home,
I see him perched atop his fishing pier
Deft-casting illness from his line, to roam
Sought-after youth’s bright sphere. Would they appear
Amidst the soaring pines, lake’s lapping foam—
The answers to the questions I’d, for fear,
Not posed? If I stood there, where he once stood,
Would I perceive our bond as he once could?
If you have any comments on this poem, Mindy Watson would be
pleased to hear from you.