Four Poems by Jennifer Lagier Fellguth
For my father
Dec. 3, 1922 – Jan. 3, 2009
For an entire month,
morning ices what was living,
blasts the last flowers into black wraiths.
It comes in waves,
realization and sadness,
the constant fatigue.
I drag myself between gray hours,
see your closed eyes again.
Mourners touch your chilled skin,
visit loudly with one another
as if it is a party, not a final viewing.
You asked to have your ashes
scattered in a field by the spray rig.
Instead, we filed you in a marble mausoleum.
Every day since, I exorcise misery,
hike miles beyond city limits, past granite boulders
where crashing surf pounds.
If I weren’t so exhausted,
I’d wonder how long it takes
before scar tissue forms.
Last year, I drove you through orchard rows so we could
assess snowy blossoms, watch the rented bees swarm.
Square hives spilled a buzzing frenzy.
Almonds exploded into white popcorn blooms.
Today, ragged clouds swell above bruised horizons.
Ghostly tumbleweeds fly across sodden roads.
Your new John Deere tractor sits,
wet and abandoned.
Cold winds rise and make me shiver.
Your assaulted trees moan.
You visit us frequently, drop in nightly
to explain special gardening secrets,
how to drape tender plants to protect them from frost.
When my sister and I compare notes,
we discover you look as if you are in your forties,
muscular, with callused hands, effortlessly walking again.
You come, wearing tan farmer’s pants,
a faded work shirt, and ratty boots,
stomp across ancient levees and into our dreams.
Each morning, she and I
hike familiar trails, debate
whether you are trying to warn or reassure.
Your constant presence brings a strange peace.
Quietly, night hauls smudged rain clouds ashore
from unsettled skies north of Monterey Bay.
Parched foothills unclench; cracked adobe
receives wet benediction, our first autumn storm.
Crisp rags of shedding sycamores crunch underfoot,
break apart like brittle wafers, exude a cinnamon reek.
Exhausted geraniums revive; roses reanimate.
Bruised calendulas spill golden shards.
The syncopation escalates. Tiny frogs chorus;
jewel-colored troubadours cling to wet walls.
Jennifer Lagier Fellguth