Poetry Porch: Forgiveness


Waving Good-bye to My Father
by Michael Blumenthal

My father, folding towards the earth again, plays
his harmonica and waves his white handkerchief 
as I drive off over the hills to reclaim my life.

Each time, I am sure itís the last, 
but itís been this way now for twenty-five years:
my father waving and playing ďAuf Wiedersehen,Ē
growing thin and blue as a late-summer iris,
while I, who have the heart for love but not
the voice for it, disappear into the day, wiping
the salt from my cheeks and thinking of women.
There is no frenzy like the frenzy of his happiness,
and frenzy, I know now, is never happiness,
only the loud, belated cacophony of a lost soul
having its last dance before it sleeps forever.

The truth, which always hurts, hurts now:
I have always wanted another father: one
who would sit quietly beneath the moonlight,
and in the clean, quiet emanations of
some essential manhood, speak to me of what, 
a kind of man myself, I wanted to hear.

But this is not a poem about self-pity:

As I drive off, a deep masculine quiet rises,
of its own accord, from beneath my shoes.
I turn to watch my fatherís white handkerchief 
flutter, like an old Hassidís prayer shawl,
among the dark clouds and the trees. I disappear
into the clean, quiet resonance of my own life.

To live, dear father, is to forgive. 
And I forgive.

Copyright © 1984 by Michael Blumenthal. 
From Days We Would Rather Know, Viking-Penguin, 1984.