My [Papa’s] watch

My eyes are always drawn to the cover graphic atop my blog. It’s a photo of my Papa, who died nearly three years ago, on vacation in Costa Rica the year before his death. Papa never went anywhere without that camera of his.

Previous to Papa’s death, I never thought much about mourning, but in the aftermath I certainly did.

Disconcertingly out of sync, perceptions jumbled, receptors misfiring, I remain immediately near but never fully within the self I’d always known, receiving on an unfamiliar, piercing wavelength.

Slowly, slowly, I have come to understand
this: My pulse has been attuned to loss.

-Me, ‘Skeptic’s Kaddish’ #47, June 23, 2019

It wasn’t only in my writing and my prayers that first year that I explored my reaction to the loss of my father; it was also in comparison to other mourners, including my Mama and my brother Eli. Before Papa’s death, it had never occurred to me that everybody mourns in their own way – because, simply, I’d never reflected upon it.


Mementos v. Remembrances

One of the way in which I found myself mourning was in wearing Papa’s watch, caps, yarmulke, and shirts. My sentimentality surprised me; Mama and Eli did not seem to desire to possess physical objects that had once belonged to Papa, but I did.

I wear my father’s cap; my father’s yarmulke; my father’s watch; his house shoes.

-Me, ‘Skeptic’s Kaddish’ #15, Nov. 11, 2018

In any case, previous to Papa’s death, I hadn’t worn a watch for years, as I could simply check my cell phone when necessary; but wearing a watch was something that I had always strongly associated with Papa. I remember him asking me why I did not have a watch and whether I might want to have one on multiple occasions throughout my childhood. He was never without his watch and was always nonplussed at my lack of desire to wear one.

Thus, when I flew home to the USA for his funeral, Papa’s watch was one of the first things that I appropriated for myself. I started wearing it all the time.

Unfortunately, the face of the watch became warped from an unexpected electric shock, and then it cracked when my then-4½-year-old accidentally dropped it. Despite the cost, this led me to order a new watch from the same series. However, when the lovely new watch arrived, I couldn’t bring myself to actually wear it because it wasn’t Papa’s, and I didn’t want the face to get scratched.

However, I also found myself wearing Papa’s watch less and less often. It had never felt entirely comfortable on my wrist, probably because Papa’s wrists were thicker than mine, and he had sized it for himself. Also, the blemished face of the watch annoyed me. While I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of the watch, I also gradually stopped wearing it.

My new watch also needed to be adjusted to my wrist size, but for a long time after it arrived in the mail, I didn’t want to bother with it. Surprised, I realized that I didn’t want to wear any watch other than Papa’s. So the brand new watch, which I had selected for myself, and which suited my taste, sat in its box on the bookshelf for many months.

And then – last week – I suddenly knew that I wanted to wear my watch. I can’t explain what changed in me, but something felt different. Something was different. I wanted to wear my new watch.

After many months of ambivalence and even attempting to put my new watch out of my mind at times, I had it resized for my wrist and put it on… and… it felt very, very right to me. The new watch was lighter than Papa’s watch, which felt better, and it fit my wrist, just as it was supposed to. I haven’t been wearing it all the time, but often enough, and I find that it does bring back memories of Papa, which comfort me. It’s not a memento… but it is a remembrance.

I don’t miss Papa more, and I don’t miss him less. I don’t even know if I miss him differently than I did one year ago or more. Honestly, I have no idea what is going on inside my heart. I don’t think Papa’s absence hurts me less than it once did… but… for reasons that I can’t comprehend, and for the very first time since Papa died in July 2018, I find myself wanting to wear a watch of my own – which never belonged to him.

Marble nights, or: Haunting

A ‘Magnetic Poem’ tanka

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angel bleeds color
desiring eternity
father's ghost haunting
in joyless kiss lingering
marble nights' old prisoner

Notes

  • For this poem, I decided to use the ‘Poet Set’ on the Magnetic Poetry website, which, I believe, is the first time I have done so;
    • I find that switching between the sets of magnets makes magnetic poetry more interesting;
  • This poem was, in part, inspired by my having lost my own father nearly three years ago, but it’s not about me or about him at all – it’s an entirely fictional piece;
  • I once again opted for a tanka, rather than a haiku;
    • As I’ve written before, the extra two lines (14 syllables) provide a greater challenge, as well as a larger canvas;
    • I’ve really taken to writing magnetic tankas;
  • As an additional challenge to myself, I deliberately wrote this as an alphabet poem;
  • I searched for and found the featured image only after I had written the entire tanka.

Hopes, or: Smoke rings

A pantoum

Thick smoke rings wafted through the steam
Small silver spoon stirred dark Earl Grey
Night clouds and hopes lit by moonbeam 
Recurring thoughts began to fray

Small silver spoon stirred dark Earl Grey
Gnarled finger clutched by digits slim
Recurring thoughts began to fray
Wise, pale blue eyes could not see him

Gnarled finger clutched by digits slim
Grandfather watched the sweet newborn
Wise, pale blue eyes could not see him
Oh, turns of time had left him worn

Grandfather watched the sweet newborn
Thick smoke rings wafted through the steam
Oh, turns of time had left him worn
Night clouds and hopes lit by moonbeam

‘Coming full circle’, a d’Verse prompt

The above poem is my response to the d’Verse ‘coming full circle’ prompt, which instructed poets to circle round and end where their poems begin. 

Possibilities included pantoums; villanelles; open forms; or even shape poems, but the goal was to attempt a circular poem where the first line and the last repeat (or are close). We were to think about the journey – where has the poem taken us? How has the meaning of that first line shifted? Has it become more certain or less?