For my father-in-law, Downer


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Mostly, I have written here about writing. But sometimes,  in a life of writing, things happen and then there is no way forward but through. Downer, I wrote this for you a long time ago.  Now I imagine I read it to you and you liked it. Or maybe you explained to me how pine cones are really nothing like desert arroyos. papa-gardens-with-liv-effectYou probably blushed and groaned–things like poems about you embarrassed you miserably, which is why I never read it to you. The closest I ever came was saying once, “Hey, Pop, you know I wrote a poem about you one time.” You pretended to be looking out the window at something that suddenly needed doing. Okay, later, Pop. Livy used to say, “Oh, Downer, my Downer.” And then she’d take your face in her hands, and you would make silly faces until she laughed or squished your cheeks, still saying, “Oh, my Downer.” Downer, always.

Papa

Papa knows all about pine cones/about their bowered nests that scratch/at the sky like cheek whiskers

Papa knows about their fall into hiding/where they wait for fire to burn them/free, where they wait for snow/to kindle their physics, where/children may find them/heaped in pirate caches

He can unwind stories of their/winding trails through/masonically secretive chambers/spiraled as tombs of warrior kings/who lay undisturbed under desert arroyos/dressed in armor, wearing masks, holding swords

Papa says, There are more rooms in the kingdoms/of a pinecone/than in all saltbox subdivisions/stacked rooftop to rooftop, folded in ways/the world will appear when/all heaves over again to mountains/and mountains are pierced

by the swords of seeds

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About metonymicalpen

I earned an M.F.A. from Goddard College in 2013. Since then, my work has received the 2013 Beacon Street Prize in Short Fiction and the 2014 John Steinbeck Short Fiction Award. My stories have appeared in REED, reDivider, The Concho River Review, Sou'wester, Moon City Review, and elsewhere. Currently, I live in the desert with my family , but I am trying to move us closer to water. We need an ocean to float all of our ideas.
This entry was posted in family, Grief, grieving, loss, love, memories, nature, parenting, poem, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to For my father-in-law, Downer

  1. Sunny Hemphill says:

    I’m so sorry you have lost Downer.

  2. claude endfield says:

    Beautiful

  3. Judith White says:

    You captured the essence of who he was… so beautiful Shelly. I love you

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