Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Bouquet for Kimberley

The square cliff sheers of Cumberland
Could never hold a girl with hair so unnaturally red,
The family funeral home could never take the place
Of the dolls that looked like bears,
Something she could play put up for sale,
As she would later pretend to get out of there.

It was a few marriages and bankruptcies later that she did,
To find the universe still gave favors:
Dye and a smile, a sister who trained dogs,
Nor far from where we used to live,
Where my daughter lives now,
Where some women I could have fallen for came from.

How did it get to this? She was not at the wedding,
Which makes us brother and sister of a kind,
Though if I embraced her once, it was only in passing
At other ceremonies, where I undoubtedly
Listened to a single guitar instead of her foregrounded dreams,
Opinions, complaints presented as her charismatic personality.

There was too much we could have shared in a glance,
Two confident steamrollers rolling,
Children scattered to not-unkind winds.
One we shared in patronage like a doll for a time,
This was the one who got married -- so young, so late,
So finally in love despite the wrecks all around her

She pretended not to see -- though she shuddered
At slamming doors, kept her hands busy
While the cruelty flowed freely.
She didn't have much of a father,
Instead she had me, for he was states away
Repeating the lesson of how to be a dad

For those who didn't have much of a mother.
And now all the children are together
Like a perpetual family captured in time,
With the ex'es in between, throttling old resentments
For the sake of the picture, the same grey photograph
Where the father of the groom, in an actual embrace

Seems to hold the mother up in her grief and ecstasy.
He has a look that can't be explained by the situation,
Or the pose, or the timing of the photographer.
It is a stare into the void, at all he doesn't know,
The people trapped in webs of love who couldn't make it
To the show, a sharp glare at what can never be made right.

He is looking at me.