"What do you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Winter Warrior



The sun burns a path through the morning fog
to capture the transient russets and golds along the road
that wither and waste with winter’s approach as a lone tractor creeps
across a field on a final till fore the ground is left
to settle and sleep and recover.
The old man on the tractor across the way
feels each bump and dip through his booted feet up to his hips,
he knows the clay and the sandy hill and the stubborn drain
of the muddy low. The lay of the land is choreographed
in the analytic brain of our winter warrior
who refuses to go south with the rest of his friends.

This is where I’m from, from how far I’ve come
to come back to the quiet of October russets
where the birds hover and hide in the dry rustle of the corn.
They swoop across the land in flocks
for they need their kind come winter.
For now they rest in the standing corn
as the tractor crawls across the field with a man at the wheel—
an old tractor that needs a firm hand on the wheel,
the swollen knuckles of the winter warrior.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Sand Dollar


As sand falls from a sand dollar
set on a shelf far from the seashore
(the tide pools of Oregon),
so do the seasons shift and leaves drop, 
weighted with rain from a gunmetal sky.
It muddies the unmarked grave,
the shoveled dirt, blackened and coarse,
unlike his face, clean-shaven on the blade of the mortician.
Lids drawn over the sterling blue eyes,
tie straightened and mouth closed,
tight-lipped, as our father never was.
The mouth isn’t right, my sister whispered
as the kneeler wobbled under our connected sorrow.
I checked his pockets, like a child for a coin,
climbing on a lap, cool and deep, and empty.



Linked to the Tuesday Platform (Poets Choice) at The Imaginary Garden.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Did I Tell You I Love You?

I see I've written nothing here since, well, since last December, but this is still my old faithful blog, waiting in the clouds for an update. I pulled it up (down?) once in a while to see if it still existed and to check on familiar blogs, but I didn't write. Now I have to write.

Dad died four weeks ago today. His life was a grand one of 96 years, full of many accomplishments and good works, so why do we cry? my mother asked as we waited for the hospice nurse to wash the body and the undertaker to come and wheel him out of the house on a gurney, wheeled him out from the room where he died, the same room in which he was born. We should be happy, said mother (as a good Catholic would say) but wherever he was, it wasn't with us. He was gone, still warm, but gone, and we missed him, so we cried.

We cancelled his "lifeline". We contacted Social Security and the Office of Personnel Management regarding his pension, sent out our thank-you cards and backstroked our way through the public grieving process. Now the private grieving has begun.

My father was a writer and his office was a vast library of agricultural yearbooks and farm journals and novels such as The Beast Of Muddy Brain, a novel about farming during the depression, and I wanted to write something memorializing him, but the how of doing that in a way he would approve is difficult.

On a morning such as the one a week ago, with the heat and humidity washed out of the air by a torrential downpour and straight line winds the night before, with puffy white clouds dotting the cerulean blue of Earth's atmosphere, with the corn tasseled out and standing motionless in the sun while the crickets sang and the geese flew overhead, while a pot of San Marzanos simmered on the stove readied for ladling into hot jars which now line the shelves in the cellar lined with fresh newspapers, as our mother taught us, I missed him.

On a morning like this with the eastern sky tinged with light by the sun at its back and an owl calling in a low throttle from the woods who-who-whowhowho, not singing but crying from the woods still dark, dad would be up; pushing himself out to the living room in his wheelchair in his fluffy white robe (sometimes getting it caught in the wheels) to sit at the picture window facing east where he could look out over the farm he loved that his grandfather started, looking out over the best place on earth and wait for the first person to come in the house and pour his morning coffee and give him a graham cracker. (The first cup is always the best.) Sometimes that was me. On a morning like this, I'd like to do that one more time.

Did I tell him I loved him? At the end of the night when he was tucked into bed, hearing aids on his bedside table, rosary where he could reach it, when I rubbed his foot under the blanket and said "good night dad", did I also say I love you? I love you I love you I love you?

On these fall nights, dewy and still, the chill of winter hovers in the air and the corn rustles on the slightest breath of a night bird, with the lights of his bedroom dark and bedside lamp off,  I miss him.

Today marks the Autumnal Equinox with fall arriving at 10:21 a.m. here in the Eastern Time Zone. The heat of summer has overstayed its welcome but soon harvest will begin. But dad won't be here to watch them bringing in the corn. He won't be here to check the yield per acre, dust flying out of the back of the combine as the beans are harvested, grasshoppers jumping and the smell of chaff in the air. Even when he could no longer be actively involved, he would be at that window, watching.

On this first day of fall when the grass is still green and the roses thrive, with the coffee growing cold in my cup, I miss him.





Robert Raymond. Linck
8/07/20 to 8/25/16
A farmer, an environmentalist, a progressive, a writer, a father.