“Yes,” said the processor from behind the counter,
“only one memory is allowed. Choose well.”
A year ago my father died, arrived
at the counter and heard, “You have three days
to decide the most significant memory of your life,”
this single moment meant to represent and suffice
unto the end of time. Tėtis leant on the counter
and smiled. I looked up startled——
What would you have chosen Tėti
had I not woken? A moment of childhood
clear and pristine as the lake on the farm,
rich and loamy as the soil of home?
A time before leaving, before the list
of the dead, before the shrapnel scarred your neck,
surely you choose any before or any after, anything
but that aching to which you forever return.
Torquay, the day you first met her, eyes squinting
in the light, or the day you married, your face lit
by joy just looking at her, her and a splendid belief
in your future, the past a dull ache then?
Or the day, another sunny one, with your daughter
beside the liquid amber, planted the year she was born
but already taller, you pointing out the birds on high?
Are all the days sunny in your memory Tėti?
The day you finished her cubby or the day
you unveiled the dollhouse you built
when she was four, or the day you restored it
when she was forty? What about the day
you helped her paint or showed her how to build
or taught her how to drive——oh, perhaps not,
that day not so sunny and not so bright——
or one of many days you met her half way?
A year ago my father died and I was left
with memories and photographs, sight
and sound, I have his voice and brow——
in all the small things Tėtis remains.