Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy Birthday to My Father

LRK and Hindy 1/2/30 - 8/9/90 

Happy Birthday to My Father 
(with deepest thanks to Walt Whitman the father of poetry in my heart*)

I sing the song of my father
every particle of my being
today infused with him as
though he stands beside me
and has never left – though
he did vanish one hot
August morning - sunlight
burning through white
coverlets – though I felt
His heart beat three times
One – Twice – Thrice
under my palm and
then stop – he did not die
I sing the song of my father
Who left with black hair
glinted with silver in his
Sixtieth year – slipped from
any coil mortal or otherwise
but for the coil that holds my
heart pounding my soul still –
I sing the song of my father
He turned my head to
the first cloud in my first
sky - to the wind in the shimmer
of sun filigreed leaves to the
sea rippling – as he drifted sand
through fingers and we sat
Together watching a tiny flag
on the top of a curlicued
Castle tilt and fall into the
Onrushing tide.
I sing the song of my father
In the eyes of all who work hard
and deserve respect and those
who cannot find work through
limitation or exclusion. In the
wonder of all that sprang natural
and all that rose from the mind
of men and women –
I sing
The song of my father who turned
my face to cobalt and burnt sienna
the shock of turpentine on a clear
morning a blank canvas holding all
I sing the song of my father
in the crabs that poked from
the mud on the day on the pier
while he painted and the sun
began to slip below gilding all
In that silent sacred place to
Which he granted me entrance.
I sing the song of my father – to
Sun burnt ribs that rippled under
Young flesh – to his ebony hair
To the taste of salt on his young
Flesh as he carried me far out
Into the sea.
I sing the song of my father
to that crinkle nose secret
smile he passed to my mother
as they sang from song-sheets
To his eyes closed in ecstasy as
Music shook the walls around
and I peeked from my own
encouraged experience to see
A tear trailing at crescendo
I sing the song of my father as
I feel his hand in mine strong
Ever present – singing in the
Shimmer of leaves in a willow
Rustling in chestnut blossoms
Soaring on the velvet tip of
A blued jay on a clear day
Returning caw for call
I sing the song of my father
As he stood watching my ride
On a carousel light slanting
Through high window – calliope
Playing waiting for me with
Open arms to jump – I jump
I sing – the song of my father
Holding my newborn son
in aquamarine waters high
above his head – diamond
droplets falling about them
I sing the song of my father
Coffee cups before us
Words flying as red cardinals
soaring from- between –above
I sing the song of my father
I sing in memory, in reflection
In honor, in dedication and
In love – I feel his presence in
the air that brushes my cheek
In every particle of my being
and though I thought it a wonder
that he left when his hair was
mostly black and his back straight
when he could bend and rise
From the earth of his gardens hands
rich with fragrant loam – Left still
young enough
I see him now – hair white –
The slightest stoop as he stands
Shining in the blaze of sun
Beams shooting dancing rays
For it is from
His lips - I sing his song
Forever with the life he
Lent to me.
Happy 85th Birthday Daddy

* Little process note here: First of all this is a first-from-my-heart need-to-write-something-this morning for my father. Apologies to both him and to all the billions of other memories which did not immediately flash into my mind - I hope that in my spilling my memories I did not hurt anyone in the process. He was well loved by so many and loved us all in return. Secondly it was my father who introduced me to Song of Myself when I was a small child - I could never read it again without thinking of him - and so please forgive the hubris of the repeated paraphrased line.


  1. Ahhh, beautiful, Pearl! Overflowing with happy, loving memories -- sweet!

  2. All the world, divided though it is into cultures, countries and castes, stand together so far as celebrating birthdays goes. Birthdays are celebrated with as much zeal and vigour as a festival. People seemingly adore turning a year older! Happy birthday wishes in hindi