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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Room for My Father’s Ghost

(White Pine by A. J. Casson, 1898-1992, Canadian artist)

Grief takes its own way in finding comfort.


Now is my father
A traveler, like all the bold men
He talked of, endlessly
And with boundless admiration,
Over the supper table,
Or gazing up from his white pillow —
Book on his lap always, until
Even that grew too heavy to hold.

Now is my father free of all binding fevers.
Now is my father
Traveling where there is no road.

Finally, he could not lift a hand
To cover his eyes.
Now he climbs to the eye of the river,
He strides through the Dakotas,
He disappears into the mountains.
And though he looks
Cold and hungry as any man
At the end of a questing season,

He is one of them now.
He cannot be stopped.

Now is my father
Walking in the wind,
Sniffing the deep Pacific
That begins at the end of the world.

Vanished from us utterly,
Now is my father circling the deepest forest —
Then turning in to the last red campfire burning
In the final hills,

Where chieftains, warriors and heroes
Rise and make him welcome,
Recognizing, under the shambles of his body,
A brother who has walked his thousand miles.

~ Mary Oliver, born 1935, American poet

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