Sunday, October 14, 2012
My mom will be turning 90 on December 3rd. (In case you're wondering about the photo: she's the one on the left.) My husband and I have been talking about throwing her a small party to celebrate. She's become such a mild, pleasant, more-or-less rational woman in her old age. Growing up with her in her full crazy-woman mode, I would never have recognized her in her current incarnation. She's been on my mind recently, and so has my dad.
My father was such a silent man, felled early by bouts of severe depression. He died a few months before he would have turned 60, but he just gave up a long time before that. To me, for many years, he had been an absent presence. I thought I'd share here a poem I wrote about him years ago, one Yom Kippur when I was trying to summon up his elusive memory.
Defiant as always, today I appeared you -
Dishonored your artistry; conjured you back,
Bringing to naught sixty years spent rehearsing
Your ultimate, masterful vanishing act.
But I wasn't prepared for this thunderous silence,
Nor for slow-motion closeup of you, all too real.
Without masking music - theatrical distance -
Without props or costumes, the tape could reveal
The point at which magic outstripped the magician,
Taking flirtation with absence as dare.
For the first time I witnessed your body dissolving,
Instantly pulverized by the violent air.
You were ground into dust, sifting down in the sunlight.
There was time just to capture your look of surprise
As illusion caught up to you - seized you in passing -
Dragged you to places beyond your surmise ...
Daddy, watching you through camera's eye,
I could not rush onstage to say goodbye.