Maureen Tolman Flannery



For Dean Tolman

The oldest of seven, born steady despite

dreams dormant behind his eyes, he was

an iron-fast anchor that kept the family from drifting.


Now his fingers worry the air as if some message written there

might be grabbed before it floats away on particles of dust.

The hand hanging flaps and flails like a brookie in a creel.


His petal foot wafts like a loose wheel about to spin off

and go rolling downhill. If illness is metaphor,

what is the meaning behind my fatherís shimmy


as if some limb or appendage wanted to dance

while the rest of him decided to sit this one out?

A jumping bean soul squashed in the pocket of a stable life.


That old restlessness that would have had him on the move

was compressed into a solid marble column,

a pillar shoring up what rested on or against him.


Perhaps forty years of a questionable marriage gave him this tremulous

bodily way a being, as if some old indecision in the cells of his muscles

has them quivering all these years after the fact of that rash proposal.


That time of steadfast standing required such force of will

that wavering worked itself down into sinew of his unbent frame.

While he stood at attention, an independent foot inside the shoe


learned to tap of its own accord. This agitation

will wash him clean as a creek-scrubbed garment

hung to bleach in the sun, though he may quake the earth


when it opens to take him back.

Copyright © 2002 Maureen Tolman Flannery.  All Rights Reserved.

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