I wrote this one a few years ago and it helped win me an award at the New England Association of Teachers of English conference. In honor of my dad on Father’s Day, I dug it back up from my old harddrive. I would not be a musician if I had heard him playing his music all of my life. Thanks, Dad.
The sound of drums beating out hours of the day
from the basement workshop he’d go
disappearing for hours
with sticks and mallets and cymbals crashing
music slipping into my ear and out again and then sounds down low
fading into the soft splash of sunlight
the gentle rhythm of Life
On weekends when rain fell from dark skies
and threatened to turn newsprint into soft clay of words
he’d crawl from his bed, bidden, sleepy, smiling, smelling of coffee
driving wordless down empty streets
as I made deliveries of the world from his metal umbrella
not always saying thanks but thankful just the same.
The sound of baseballs thrown in the air, hitting a glove
and the thwack, thwack, thwack of the ball hitting back
returns again in a familiar arc across the backyard lawn.
The crack of a wooden bat — nothing less than the sound of youth
reaching out for dreams of glory before the crowds go home.
“That’s it,” he’d say as I swung hard, and I could touch a star
and wrap myself in the light of his words.
We’d stand by forgotten bends of rivers
swatting at bugs and casting our lines
urging for some action but ready for silent peaceful thoughts.
I’d watch him wade into water
powerful against the currents, careful in his deliberations
and then, a hit, a tug, and a smile towards me as he reeled inward.
Father, Papa, a man of grace and wisdom
he has given me precious gifts: Love, Affection, Encouragement.
I follow his footsteps now as a father,
leaving a trail behind for little footsteps that echo all around us.
I tell them, listen for the rumble of drums.
Listen for the joyful crash of cymbals.
Listen to the music of your heart.