A Childhood Memory of My Father


for my father — a childhood memory….

Late morning silhouette:
unwelcome shadows,
purple grey subtlety
suffocate the sun
I am befuddled by the silence,
absence of laughter,
ordinary talk,
the smile on my mother’s face —

Sunday respite away from home,
a town where my father was born, we would
spend hours at Aunt Andrea’s house
until the sunset bid farewell
and the gas lamps gave light along with fireflies
and the crickets chirped on.

I was a little child less than school age
in pigtails and petticoats
wondering where my father went that day
for I longed for his strong presence
amidst this baffling purple silhouette —

I crossed the pebbled country road,
climbed up a stunted hill
to Grandma’s house and I found
my father weeping,
hunched under a native fruit tree,
mournful violin strings uncontrollable,
relentless rivulets of tears cascade
for a brother to be buried,
at height of youth,
at a town feast the week before
a chef’s senseless blunder —

Wide brown eyes watched in wonder,
my little child’s heart cried at his distress and he
looked back and beheld his daughter,
his countenance contorted in grief softening,
and slowly the mournful music lulled
as he staggered to where I stood
and my father held my hand
and he and I chased the purple shadows out of the morning
as we walked down the hill
along with life and the sunlight.

© 2012 by D. G. Vachal, revised 2021

* photography by Аркадий Деев