That Snowy Day

home movies
showed me following dad
out of a pine forest
hopping in the snow
behind the tree he
cut for Christmas… I was
three. The movies play
in my memory over and over

I looked out of the oxygen tent
distorted plastic images
dad and Uncle Jimmy, hat
in hand, looking resigned
I knew I had died once then
I was four.

Summer of the Beatles
Red Rocks ’64 how I wanted
to see them, so I stayed with
daddy that summer in Denver
fresh paint on the wall of my
very own room, we spent the days
together and we giggled and read
books and talked about not seeing
things one way,

more became my
horizon and I grew strong

A few visits since that time
at the cabin in Coal Creek, he would
drink and I would go outside
smoke reefer, come back to giggle
with Wanda and dad

by that time the stories were dearer

Wanda called one night ’79
dad was in the VA hospital dying
cancer of lung then liver
I gathered tapes of swing music
photos that my sisters ordered me
not to show him,

his grandsons
in 16 x 20 sat next to his bed
a ward filled with dying veterans
he had life to show off

and we listened and laughed
and I heard questions I could not
answer and four months, every night
I sat by that bed, learning why
mother had loved him

The last day at the hospital
nurses pointed to a single room
last hour on earth and we held
hands and we cried and we giggled

and he died and I will never forget
that snowy day, bobbing behind that
fallen tree and catching up to
my daddy to grab his gloved hand
and follow


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