My grief is raw, it hangs hooked
like gauze shrouded ham
curing in the smokehouse or the
mitoxantrone and aredia
that drip into my father’s right
wrist. His left hand
nooses my wrist. Chained by
my love, by the bracelets,
the necklaces he had made for me
from field clover tied
head to stem, I can’t repeat bone
scan, his last PSA count.
To distract my father, to pass the
three hours, I read
the sports page, quote the latest
in the battle for the title
of home run king. Taking off
a Cincinnati Reds’ hat
to finger his long white hair that
impresses women tubed
up in other hot pink lounge chairs,
my father can’t resist
spouting statistics. It’s
those Yankees he remembers:
The Team in 1927. That summer
he was barely thirteen,
doing the work of a man, hauling
logs, baling hay,
driving his daddy’s Model T.
In their regular season,
taking 110 games, those Yankees
clear out of the World Series.
One handed, my father
can still wow the ladies by showing
how he swung a broom,
cleaning the Pirates right out of
the stands. The Yankees’
percentage of .722 in regular and
was the best ever. Babe Ruth
hit 60 homers, more than
every other American League team.
Just twenty four,
Lou Gehrig hit 47 runs, accounted
for 175 r.b.i.—or what
fans like my father called ribbies.
Just warming up,
he gets started on Hall of Fame pitcher
who won 19 games. That’s it
for me. No Connecticut roots,
my mind’s back in Cecelia, Kentucky,
the cellar house
where Grandma kept green mason jars
she’d filled last fall.
Needing peaches, lard to fix me a
pie, she called me sissycat,
tried to shame me into going down
alone but after supper,
my father came along. No light,
boards were rotting out
on the stairs, so we were quick,
mapping out fruit ordered
in red, yellow, white, gold.
If the cellar door clanged,
I knew his hand would be there,
a flare of wooden matches
he used to light kindling in the
morning for the coal stove.
Spiders tied nets; my father went
first to break the veil.
© by Vivian Shipley