HOLDING A MIRROR TO THE SUN

SKULL

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

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