God, we were drunk the night we exhumed your ferret
from the dirt in the grounds of your old school. We
drank mudslides and white russians until the bartender
dimmed the lights and put all the stools but ours on
the bar, the chairs on the tables. Stumbling into the cold,
on a chorus of “Life’s Been Good” and “Marian the Librarian,”
thinking what a good idea it would be to dig some bones
from the dirt. We found a trowel in your parents’ shed, headed
to the side of the chapel, and dug--you remembered just where.
Not far down, we found a jaw bone, some teeth, and the old
weathered knit hat you buried him in--red and green, just like
Christmas, but dirtier. We celebrated his life with a toast
of homemade white russians in your parents’ kitchen, just before
we fell into a drunken sleep, entangled with each other on the floor.
In the fading light outside our den
the night birds begin their calling.
You sit, after a long day of work
and flying planes, iced tea between
your legs, the news on the television.
I stand behind your chair, combing
wisps of hair over your balding head.
You smell of Old Spice. I love looking
at your powerful arms, resting
in your lap, one hand draped over
the glass, one over the arm of the chair.
Your huge frame and your calm fill the room.
By day, you are the pilot, Hun’s Hammer
emblazoned on the fuselage of your fighter.
By night, you are my barbershop customer,
my confidant. If you lived, I would have
a blueprint of how to father my own children:
how to nestle them in blankets, allow their
questions to linger in the air, resting in
their thoughts, just out of reach.
On the Beach Wall
for Jimmy and Barbara
After carousing and flirting with the British
soccer team in the misplaced Irish pub,
two bottles of Burgundy, some Guinness,
and a couple of Tullamore Dews later
we’re pressed together on the beach
wall listening, holding each other
up, listing and reeling, in the mist. We
can hear music welling up from
the beach below. Maybe they have
cigarettes, she says. Firelight hazing
up in the night, sparks lighting
our way as kids throw logs
on the fire, boys and girls playing,
smoking, kissing. My husband plays
guitar, she says. This is Jimmy,
this man, this hero. Ah! Jimmy!
like Jimmy Page! they say. Something
like that. A smiling dark haired boy
hands me a guitar, and I play, for
my European debut, “Sitting on Top of the World.”