Saturday, June 20, 2009

Dad Flashes a Smile

Baked Beans: A Word from the Dead
(A poem for Dad by his sister, Margie)

How I long for a voice to break
the long silence,
a country strange and vast without sustenance.
A word in dream or vision to say, "I'm safe home.
I'm happy.

I'm myself and more, the person you knew and loved
and didn't know."
Day and night I'm listening
but not a word
my brother as silent in death as he was
in life when his mother and sisters waited months or years
for a letter or a call
as he trudged West, shedding people and possessions.
Just at the end he turned and flashed a smile,
and then was gone.
Though he's in that new place where distance disappears
in the twinkling of an eye, or so they say,
he is as silent as god
withholding comfort
in the conspiracy of death.

But then from the friendly darkness of my recipe box
I hear his voice, laughing, defiant -- sandwiched between beets
and broccoli bake
his recipe for baked beans, sent just before he died:
"I use pinto beans but I suppose great Northern would work too. I
just don't trust anything that is white. Does that make me racist?"
"Mix in two tablespoons of mustard (make this stone ground not
that yellow crap that people put on hot dogs.)"
"Bake at 250 for 9 hours."
These are earthly words.
Like dreams and visions they tell me only what I know:
In a kitchen smelling of onions and molasses
feed each other food cooked slowly while you
laugh and talk

and do good work.

It isn't much.

People have lived on less.

-- Margie Faulkner

1 comment:

Kristin said...

This is such a beautiful poem. I can see your dad and your aunt shining through, and you, too, Jessie. A love for words, a love for all that is -- in life and death -- sacred.