BY JAN HAAG

POETRY + ESSAYS + MUSIC + TRAVEL + FICTION + TEXTILE ART

INTRODUCTION + HAAG'S BIO





FATHER

1-14-97

Walking through the icy dawn, O Devayani,
you were thinking of father,
so feeble,

creeping around, almost in a two step
-- at 90 he can still dance better
than he can walk --

shuffling, timid, frail, a little
incoherent, not afraid,
almost blind,

not deaf -- but frail -- frail is the word,
O Devayani. Physically frail,
almost as thin

as a Hindu, knees knobbly, bones all but
exposed, as if he hadn't
enough to eat.

But he eats all day: breakfast, snack,
lunch, snack, dinner, snack --
and the flesh

falls away. Slowly, he raises the trembling
spoon to his lips, sips some, loses some,
enjoys, without smiling.

Without comment, he eats. Missing, at times,
food in the front of the bowl,
because,

although he has 20/20 vision in his right
eye -- as far as you and his love can
comprehend --

he sees an area about the size of a pin-head. An inverted
telescope, his one good eye focusses
like an optic

fiber, a very small beam -- a laser. He can read
signs, street signs, at a great
distance.

But frail -- his body, O Devayani, his body is frail.
His sight, his comprehension
of the world

is frail, forgetful. "I don't remember what I did
yesterday, but I know I enjoyed it,"
he laughs,

his jaw lopsided, the lower one that hurts
-- he seldom complains --
working.

Your sister, O Devayani -- she has been there
for years, while you were elsewhere -- says
his downhill

slide began when he insisted on having
all his remaining teeth pulled.
O Devayani,

did they hurt so much? Did he just not know
what would happen? Is she wrong?
One does

what one does. There is no ledger of reasons,
explanations, causes. Guesses, only
guesses.

Even at 90, there are only guesses --
and frailty. The frailty
of his body, now

matching the frailty of his spirit -- guessed
when you were but a child,
without compassion,

and confirmed when Mother died. Grief,
pathetic, uncontrollable grief,
weeping,

touching, longing for "the friend."
O Rumi, no one ever sought so
intently,

to find the friend, the love, the support,
as Devayani's father sought a love,
a companion,

one on whom to lean, one in whom to confide.
He sought, dedicatedly until
He

found an angel, a suitable angel. He'd had one
angel: Devayani's mother,
and He found

another angel. God granted Him a second
angel. To have had two
guardian angels? --

O Devayani, who is this frail old man?
-- hungry, lingering,
seeking?

Just a frail spirit? -- eating and enjoying
what can't
be

remembered?








Copyright © 2000 Jan Haag
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Jan Haag may be reached via e-mail: jhaag@u.washington.edu




A FEMINIST DAUGHTER'S FATHER POEMS

Father

A Father's Death

Phillip Morton Smith

Pursuing Her Father

The Origins of the World




OTHER POEMS ABOUT THE PEOPLE AND LANDSCAPE OF AMERICA

Arizona Desert

Cyberspace

George Coluzzi

I Am Innuit





BY JAN HAAG


POETRY + MUSIC + ESSAYS + TRAVEL + FICTION + TEXTILE ART

INTRODUCTION + HAAG'S BIO



21st CENTURY ART, C.E. - B.C., A Context