My dad, postwar Germany 1947
I'm not a poet, but when I first started taking writing classes some of my memories came out in prose and some came out in poetry, probably because my first professor was a poet and just being around her turned everyone in the class into a poet. So since Momalom's Five for Ten writing topic for today is memory, I offer up a poem I wrote about my father, about a moment in time, and about my thirteen-year-old self.
The theater’s dark.
Dad’s breathing next to me,
alive still for two more years.
Mom’s settling in next to him,
fluffing up her hair,
smoothing her dress,
and turning all her rings pointy side up.
My little sister,
her face flickering in and out with the movie,
sits on my other side laughing.
We’re just visiting Arizona.
My parents are shopping
for a flat, rectangular brick of a house,
sideways garages and pebble front yards,
all the houses strewn across the desert.
While my sister and I spend each day
floating in the sunshiny pool at the Holiday Inn
and plan what we’ll order that night
from the kids menu at Coco’s.
Dad coughs suddenly in the quiet theater
and a few rows up someone yells out,
“I hope it’s not catching!”
And suddenly I don’t want to move here at all.
I want to pack my two-piece bathing suit,
my nose plugs and my swim cap,
climb in the back of the station wagon
and head east, home to Chicago,
where the fathers all cough like they’ll be dead in two years
and everyone politely ignores it.
Do you alternate writing poetry and prose? Do you have any memories of insignificant moments that take on significance only in light of what happened later? Ever stood at a crossroads?