My Father Remembers
My father was not a great ballplayer,
or wage earner, or man,
but, he understood the cadence of his language.
Tired after a day of subways and sales
he read to his children,
all of us lined on the couch
like pigeons on a wire.
Sweating on plastic slipcovers in summer,
we listened to verses of Casey and crowds,
and imagined homeruns lost over horizons
we dared venture to.
My father at eighty-three, cannot recall
what it is he sold, or the route
into the city’s tunnels he traveled,
but the day my young son recites from memory
Casey’s defeat at Mudville,
my father remembers
and feeds his grandson lines:
And now the pitcher holds the ball,
and now he lets it go.
and now the air is shattered
by the force of Casey’s blow.
In the face of loss
thinking his children still young and enchanted,
my father takes a final swing
at this life striking him out.
“Something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay”
Details, which once belonged to us
slip off memory’s hanger like a silk shirt.
A famous battle,
the actor, who always plays the villain,
or is it the hero…that jazz refrain,
names of well-navigated cities,
are lost in the tattered purse of recollection,
like the capital of Paraguay.
Not that the capital of Paraguay means much to many
but we were there, you and I, in November,
when mangoes fell from trees lining the boulevard.
We stuffed our packs and pockets full,
then ate them under moonlight,
when no one was looking,
and the world was mango-wonderful.
Now, I do forget–
Forget to buy your favorite cereal,
to turn lights off, to tie the dog up–
forget that I annoy.
But, I do remember the capital of Paraguay.
We were there once, you and I,
knapsacks caboosed to our backs,
belly filled with fallen mangoes,
living for days on just that fruit.
Laurie Kuntz is an award-winning poet and film producer. She has published two poetry collections: The Moon Over My Mother’s House, (Finishing Line Press) and Somewhere in the Telling, (Mellen Press), and three chapbooks: Talking Me Off The Roof, (Kelsay Books), Simple Gestures, (Texas Review Press) and Women at the Onsen, (Blue Light Press), as well as an ESL reader The New Arrival, Books 1 & 2, (Prentice Hall Publishers). Her poetry has been nominated for three Pushcart Prizes and one Best of the Net. Her chapbook, Simple Gestures, won the Texas Review Poetry Chapbook Contest, and Women at the Onsen won the Blue Light Press Chapbook Contest. Happily retired, she lives in an endless summer state of mind. Visit her here and here.