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.