Sunday, June 16, 2013

My uncle Bob died yesterday after a long illness. His death was not a shock but it is a great sadness. He was the first member of my parents' generation to die since his brother-in-law (my father's brother Paul) was killed in Vietnam. So this is a terribly sad Father's Day for my four cousins and for my aunt Connie.

When we six cousins were teenagers, we were pall bearers for my grandmother's coffin. We met again around my grandfather's coffin. And now there will be another meeting. Between times we rarely speak, but when we are together again, we are as we always were. Six cousins--bumptious and reserved, a wordless pack.

Here's an ancient poem, dedicated to my uncle Paul, which I wrote after my grandfather's funeral. But the house in the poem is Bob and Connie's and the landscape is central New Jersey, where Bob spent his entire life as a farmer.

For Uncle Paul

Dawn Potter

It is what you might expect,
the day the next generation
crowds your father’s big coffin
into tight quarters,
all of us staggering around
in the wrong shoes,
crying about this and that.

Big and bald,
with sprouting grey hairs
and children and sorrows—
we loom, yes, every one of us,
casting shadows where they fall
over this land of exits and septic tanks.
There’s nothing to remember

except your sister’s house,
rearing up from a winter field,
blank-eyed cupola
scanning the painted sky
for the lost ones, sailing alone
this weary time
on the wide wide sea.


CMGadapee said...

My condolences to you and your family; every loss, expected or otherwise, is a freshly felt absence.

See you on the 23rd...

Ruth said...

My sympathy and love to all.

Maureen said...

Offering my sympathies for your and your family's loss.