HOLDING A MIRROR TO THE SUN
(In memory of William Kenneth Finton)
Is it the ghost of him I see in the restless dreamscapes of a hollow night? The ghost of him … or my own flawed impressions? Twenty years ago my world quaked violently when he passed so suddenly from our lives, so quickly there was barely time for tears.
A sudden shock… a stunning loss… and life moved on without him. With childhood’s end, the world could never be the same.
Twenty years … so long ago I barely recognize that younger, wandering self. Yet, in those silent dreamscapes of the night he comes to visit still.
A near sighted old neighbor said he saw him walking through the tall grasses of the abandoned yard years after we left the old Ohio homestead.
“Bunk,” I said, not prone to thoughts of spirits, yet encounters of a kind have occurred in the darkness of many a restless night since.
I remember those long evenings in the family home, the easy chair whose arms held up a crude wood shelf flowing over with papers and notes, my father seated behind this rude table in his oily green work suit, lost from the present in the remote past of other peoples lives.
The black and white TV that connected us with the world blared endlessly, while mother ironed the clothes and I shook my head in wonder.
How bored I liked to be on those hot and muggy summer days when Dad’s idea of a good time was to walk through silent graveyards, writing the names from time-worn stones on yellow legal pads.
Yet, caught up in his enthusiasm, I learned to hold a mirror to the sun, reflecting shadows upon those faded letters. Quite often we were rewarded with a touch of heartfelt sentiment inscribed upon the crumbling stone.
Often Saturday would find us in some distant library, digging through piles of dry old books of facts that smelled of yesteryear, but all was not studious and dull escape. All was not the dark, outmoded past, as I feared in the leafy green and anxious days of youth… the family trips brought new, inviting places we ran to once a year, croquet with friends in the evening breezes of the green Ohio grass.
Is it the ghost of him I see in the restless dreamscapes of a hollow night? The ghost of him … or my own flawed impressions?
His choice in music bubbles through my mind. His choice in pastime rumbles through my mature years like the distant drone of a passing freight.
Through the years I’ve come to know him more than yesterday, when I was but his child. And most of all, I learned to hold a mirror to the sun.
© 1993 Kenneth Harper Finton