Welcome to where I am, where my kitchen's always messy, a pot's (or a poet) always about to boil over, a dog is always begging to be fed. Drafts of poems on the counter. Windows filled with leaves. Wind. Clouds moving over the mountains. If you like poetry, books, and music--especially dog howls when a siren unwinds down the hill-- you'll like it here.


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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

EARTH DAY: for my father


WHEN KELLY FLEW OVER


For my father

When Kelly flew over the farm
with your ashes,
the field you had chosen
as resting place waited
for you, October
light keen
as a ploughman’s blade
slicing through sod.

When we saw Kelly’s
plane rising
over the loblollies,
trailing its message-
smoke, we knew
you’d settled yourself
into alfalfa stubble,
eternally comfortable
inside the dirt
you had tilled.

What a helluva way
to come home,
Daddy. Oh
you knew all along
just what you wanted,
a cropduster’s yellow plane
diving so low
the weeds shimmied,
while you floated down,
in no hurry
at last, to the earth
you claimed
always knew you
better than
you knew yourself.


Some of you may remember when I posted this poem in an earlier version after I began "Here, Where I Am." I like this revision much better. It's the dedicatory poem in my new manuscript.

8 comments:

Vicki Lane said...

A perfect resting place for a farmer.

Some years back I attended a memorial service for a friend. It was held in his garden and at the end of the service, we were all invited each to take a bit of his ashes and work it into the soil of the garden. It was lovely and meaningful -- dust to dust.

Nancy Simpson said...

Kay, This poem means much to me. I remember you sent me a copy of it at the time my family was having to make serious decisions to respect Jeff's wishes. To be honest, I was the only one in the family that had a problem with my son's cremation. Your poem helped me. For what can one do except to honor the deceased's wishes? Jeff wanted his ashes scattered by the spring branch where he used to play as a child. His memorial was one of the most spiritual events I've ever attended. I love that place all the more where my children played and I love knowing Jeff's ashes are there. I relate to your poem completely. It is the perfect Earth Day poem.

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Thank you, Vicki and Nancy. Watching that plane fly over us with the ashes and then flying back, with white flare trailing giving us the thumbs up was a spiritual experience!

DeadMule said...

Beautiful way to honor your father, Kathryn. The poem has lightness about it that makes what happened seem right: a fitting way to keep him as a part of the earth he so obviously loved.

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Thanks, Helen. That October morning was glorious.

Glenda C. Beall said...

Like my father, your dad did not want to leave the land he loved.
This beautiful poem gives me chills when I read it. I can see it had to be a spiritual moment.
Thanks for sharing it again with the revisions. I loved the first one and I love this one.

karenh said...

absolutely love it.

Jessie Carty said...

A beautiful moment and a beautiful poem :)