Dear heart, wish you or I were here or there . . .
No. That’s not true.
I wish I knew that you
were happy now, and sure at last
of being loved. I loved
our long talks late at night
when all the others were in bed. We’d fight
about the war and Watergate, and sip
Virginia Gentleman (one was your limit).
Your image doesn’t dim; it
resonates through all my life.
So many times I’ve wanted
to call you up or walk downstairs
to your domain, the basement
with its toolbench and pine-paneled
walls, you in a dark mood slouching
over your ham radio, to coax you
back into the light, make you laugh.
Above my desk I have the photograph
of you kneeling beside me in the garden
that the wood absorbed. I’m two and nervous
in the little plastic pool. You’re
having a good time with your Number One Son,
smiling more broadly than I can recall
outside of snapshots, though I can remember all
your other faces: stolid in the pew
at church, sublime intentness of a natural
engineer at your electric saw, or soldering
a new attachment to the jerrybuilt
shortwave, red with fury
over being baited or some imaginary
provocation, but mostly
when someone didn’t listen.