In Memory of Dad

Today is the 25th anniversary of the Challenger disaster, and the eighth anniversary of my dad's death. This Tuesday is the anniversary of the Columbia disaster, which occurred on the same day as dad's memorial services. There were two gatherings, one in Houston and one for me, great with child, in Atlanta.

I've tinkered with this poem for years. This is the current form.

Relics: A Diary

January 28 As the phone call ended downstairs I folded down a corner of the Secret Garden, perched it atop a stack of books, way too optimistic for the fortieth week, and turned toward the door to my husband’s ashen face— I turned toward the door, the door, the door beyond which there be dragons, as the mapmakers used to say with their quills poised over a tattered void.

February 1 While the family gathered four states away, filed past his red motorcycle loitering at the church steps, I placed a picture on a low table, exhaled into a chapel, and sat down creaking front. And people who didn’t know him, but who knew me, loved me (loved me! loved me?) filled in respectful rows, heard how he made French toast and adored Alice’s Restaurant, stood at table tore bread fumbled a hug and left. And debris rained over a Texas plain.

February 12 In dreams, at least, a gleaming new child met a confused old wanderer. There, she said, pointing behind her, to forever, to Goodness, that’s the way you’re looking for.

All right then, he said, lifted her, cradled her for an eternal instant, then twirled her around to the path he’d completed and wished her luck and love.