Friday, July 22, 2011

Outside Jericho

Woke up thinking of grandpa's funeral
where one by one my cousins stood 
and told of a warm funny man
and I sat in a pew
holding my father's hand
because I never saw that man 
until the last few years
when his brain fell apart 
and the walls came down
and he forgot himself
or was it me?

It's funny what can trigger a series of thoughts.  A friend tweeted a link to a clip from the new Planet of the Apes flick which turned out to revolve around the ape lead defending a character with Alzheimer's. I couldn't get through it, which was kind of a surprise to me. My grandfather died 9 years ago, and his senility had been building for 6 years at that point.  I guess I thought I was done with all those feelings, but clearly I was wrong.

Maybe it's having kids. Christie's grandmother is still alive, and my daughter (age 3) is a huge fan of all 4 of her grandparents. So she's naturally curious about mine. How to explain that I was flat out scared of one grandfather, and never met the other? And that's not even getting into the question of how to explain death to a three year old.  I think that's going to have to wait a couple of years.

So, anyway, an idea popped in my head while I was in the shower, and I wrote a draft, showed it to Christie, and we talked about it. I said I worried that it was trite, and she said, "Well, anytime you end a poem with a question, you're taking a risk, but if it's how you feel..." which didn't exactly assuage my worries. But I've only writtem one poem since becoming a father, and I really wanted to take the time to craft some lines, so I revised, and revised until it's something a little more ambivalent and ambiguous, something with a clearer voice, something I like a little better.

Of course, talking about poetry in public always makes me feel like a Vogon, and reminds me of the Heinlein quote, "A poet who reads his verse in public may have other nasty habits." And then there's the central problem of the poem, that the version of my grandfather that I knew was not the version that everyone else seemed to know.  

Luckily, nobody reads my blog anymore anyway.


Rita said...

i do, i do!

Emily said...

I can't keep up with the evolution of the internet, in which reading habits come and go and move onto the next thing. We are still here, Mike, albeit scattered of brain. And, just a little warning, Ella started asking a lot of questions about death about 9 months ago, so you may not have as much time to architect those conversations as you think! In fact, I wrote my first blog post in two years today and it was inspired by Ella's latest questions about death. She is periodically, and consistently, trying to get her head around it.

cleek said...

I do, too.. Also, the captcha that I have to regurgitate is "gotopun". That seems appropriate for you.

Michael Kaplan, LCSW said...

Hey, I read your blog (occasionally) and I think this is a damn good poem. Seriously.