On the Corner
By Robert Docter –
It must be all this talk of builders
that reminds me of my father–that grand,
tall man whose presence invades my heart,
and awakens each of my senses.
I hear his voice echo through the caverns
of my consciousness. My ears do not sense the silent sound
yet I perceive it from that deep part of methat
is memory. My whole being resonates
to the sound my memory calls forth–
the timber and tone,
the inflection and subtlety of nuance
speak with the voice of the Montana plains
a message of affirmation and expectation.
I hear his warmth.
My eyes look into his, and, simultaneously,
they bring a grin to my thoughts and
freedom to my mind.
He spoke without pretense of important concerns
in hopes to guide my way.
No solemnity–no effort to impress–
no urgency to influence or stir guide his effort to help
me build my bridge with life.
I hear his love.
I found his daily journal after I gave his body
to the lush, green sod–
rich beneath a golden California sky.
With the hand of one not yet twenty he wrote:
“MY MOTTO: Be a little different,” and I thought
how I, somehow guided by our relationship,
had made that MOTTO my own.
Flashes of his creativity wash over me–
phrases of his turning come to mind.
He struggled to invent a bridge of creativity while
fettered firm within a box of strict rigidity.
The consequence of freedom denied
brought deep sighs and longing and unspoken pain.
His love never faltered.
He carried his hurt alone while he spoke to me of
orderliness and freedom,
of humanity and God,
of peace and war inside one’s self
and loyalty and love.
Without awkwardness he always kissed me on the lips,
his great arms enclosing me as a gift
of safety and security. And while encased
I breathed his lovely, very human, male smell,
still remembered, still adored, still secure.
From him I learned the colors of a hug.
And from that embrace, each time so freely given,
I ventured forth to find my bridgehead
and take its measure and test its worth.
When lost or insecure my eyes focused above
the heads of those around me, seeking
confidence in the eyes of the tallest man I knew.
With a soft hand on my shoulder,
“Stand tall,” he would say to me in the slump
of my vulnerability, and I would straighten.
My steps, now less tentative, moved out on the span,
finding confidence in my own eyes and
those gifts I felt within me.
I crossed my bridge. I entered life,
fully certain of nothing except
the love of God so warmly modeled by loving parents.
As they stood together on the now distant shore
I set about the task of building yet another bridge
to span another gulf to achieve other goals,
now assured of an identity felt yet not defined.