Elegy for My Father
At the dining room table, Miami afternoon, 1975.
Your mother gave us each a small bowl: canned peaches and pears,
plain cottage cheese and a dollop of sour cream.
You sat beside me. All of us drinking up the syrup,
the fan spinning overhead, spoons clicking the bowls.
I was a child. No cares, just bare feet and an empty bowl—
a table of long, warm days.
Now I look in the dairy aisle and find your favorite:
Friendship All Natural Cottage Cheese, white dove flying above the name.
Below, on a swath of sun-yellow, a tiny pineapple with a slice cozied up to it.
A little shveet, you’d say with a wink, trying on a German accent.
I think of you in the light blue cotton robe
sitting at the counter, spooning it onto your plate,
eating, the way you preferred: slow, careful.
You’d tell me about a George Eliot book,
how you admired her range,
or about a decision you’d made—
that you quit politics
when the language of your party became violent—
decisions you’d made that you still honored.
Your pauses taught me how to consider.
It is late spring; my town is quiet and you are gone.
I sit at my dining room table
given to me by a man I love.
He reminds me of you—his clear eyes, his direct speech.
But his firmness is unknowable,
and he is not committed.
I am hungry and waiting.
fiction poetry "fact" photography