I had a dream about my father.
And in the golden mean between its full embrace
and its breaking splinters, lapping and overlapping like a fractured bell,
a truth was shrill and clear.
Maybe if I had said, if he had said, “I love you”
during the time of his dying.
But we passed on those chances, settling instead
for our arms entwined as we leaned in together,
like awkward windblown trees locking branches,
on greeting, at parting.
Maybe if we had persevered beyond that timeline
separating tousled hair and handshake,
persevered across the interzone, still able then –
stumbling both within the space between,
one grizzled cheek against another,
bony shoulder into chest –
to hear each other breathing.
Maybe if we had persevered against
that space between,
then your body in death
(the broken nose that rose above
the sunken cheeks, the slightly parted lips,
the marble ridge of your forehead,
the hair slicked back as in life)
would have yielded up for me alone one final breath.
I cried then as a son cries by his father’s body.
And I cried as I walked away for the space inside,
which was surely still the space between.
And, in part at least, this dream now speaks
to all the crying since that time, arising from a space inside,
which is surely from the space between.
Love is never the answer, even when it seems so shrill and clear.
Love is the same questions, lapping and overlapping
like so many tumbling bells.
NOCTURNES III by Morton Laurisden – Sure on this shining light.
That’s a deeply, seriously moving poem, Dick, so true and faithul to the felings it bring back into vivid life. The photo too has that quality.
Thank you, Natalie. It got written directly on waking from the dream – a full draft without pause for thought! I formatted it afterwards, but most of the original content has remained.
It’s good to get comments diretly to the blog via a feed, as of old.The Facebook link very rarely picks up any visitors. Even fellow poets stay clear. I couldn’t resist welcoming ‘likes’ for the picture but warning any potential liker that a poem lurked behind it. Clearly it’s done the trick!
Most poignant read in light of today being the birthday of my late father. He would have been 94. Those dream dumps can be quite fruitful. Too bad we can’t get a direct download upon awakening. Perhaps it would be more than we could handle.
Much more, Carrie! This dream and its rendering came long after counselling, self and other-administered. It’s taken this long in my ancient case to realise that you never stop being an orphan!
I wrote a poem, too, about my father, based on a dream I had after his death. As for what might have been, I don’t have the poem to hand but I know that what my father said to me in the dream was “there’s no such thing as unfinished business.” I think he was addressing my “maybes”! I was out running and had just encountered him sitting in the grass on a flank of Pendle Hill.
I like to think we’ve both made a good job of our dad poems. However, they mean so much more than their value as poetry. I think when we incorporate our dreams into creative work which is about these great traumas in our lives we preserve how we were feeling and thinking at the time better than any other way I can think of.
When we moved into what had been my parents’ house I cleaned out the attic and found a cardboard box my father had put there. He had written on the top, “Dom’s Treasures”. In it were, among many things, the bear I’d slept with and a wooden fort he’d made me when I was about 10.
I would have liked to have read your dad poem, Dom. Lost forever or in the back of a drawer? The circumstances of its arrival seem very similar to those that produced mine. I very rarely remember my dreams now – maybe something to do with the breakdown in my circadian cycle (as now: typing this at 02.35!). But ‘Dream Dad’ came out of an unusually vivid and sustained narrative. What an unanticipated treasure that box was! I recently came across a letter from my dad addressed to me, written just after my birth.
That letter sounds a great find! I’ve just looked round for the poem. Can’t see it anywhere. It was in a short pamphlet I produced myself back in the 1990s – I’ve still got one or two copies somewhere I didn’t manage to give away.
That bell, the sound, the bringing to mind thoughts of my own father as I read such a poignant recalling of yours, and the contrast, much like that of sound into silence.
It’s always good to find that a personalised poem touches on the experience of others. (Good, too, to be in touch again via a blog comments box!) Thank you, Rae, for this.
A very poignant poem Dick especially coupled with the photo.
Many thanks, Sue! The photo is so much of its time, isn’t it? I appear to be wearing a double-breasted sports jacket!
…and this too… thank you for this…and the picture of you with him. Funny to read this today, after posting my post about my fathers’ dying! Love to you.
SynchronIcity! We’re clearly sharing a wave at present, Fan. Weirdly, for a while my dad also had an eyepatch. Then he had a glass eye fitted. I was so disappointed!
That is beautiful , painful and affirming all in one
Thanks and will share with my lads
Thank you, Juliet. I’m so glad that a personal tribute should reach you too.