Ode To Death – July 15, 2010

Posted: July 15, 2010 in Samples of My Writing

Here is a poem in honour of my father who died July 16, 1995 at the age of 74. This poem is from my book Wrapped Within Again.

I also made a reading of this poem. Click HERE to hear me read it.

Ode To Death

Thou art a dreaming thing – John Keats

I have been bothered all week
by dreams of my dead father
Each time I wake
I feel lost in the light that scrambles
to make another day and I know
the dead come back to the living
not to tell them anything
but because they still know the way.

Each time I wake
I remember him in the hospital morgue.
His dead face could not answer me
and still I talked to him and kissed his forehead
as if my warm lips could reach him
hidden so deep within his body.
I wanted to sing a song
the room could hold in its thin air forever,
but the nurse made me feel
like his dead body belonged to everyone but me,
and I left ashamed that only the dead
have taught me about death
and even they could not explain
how I should love them.
Now when I wake it’s my dead father’s face
I remember even if he was alive in the dream.

My father will never see the green yards
in Calgary again or lift his hand
into the sunlight to strum its warmth.
The dead leave no trace to where they’ve gone
and in dreams the living mold
a different world
where death is but a window
the living can look into
and find across the glass
a world like this one,
a strange world and yet
one we can live in.

When I wake from a dream of my father
I wander the house
as if I’ve just come in the wrong door.
I approach his pictures
as I might someone living
and speak to them
expecting his head to nod and his eyes
to come back into focus.
But he doesn’t move
remaining still as all ghosts do.
In my dreams and in my head
he remains alive
even if no one but me can see him
and though he doesn’t move at all
we communicate through stillness
and within my worn out head
we dance without moving
to music nothing more than arteries’ work
and the glorious confusion of love.

Spring bends inside me,
and my father can feel
a fresh green stretch out of me
can smell each flower’s new bloom.
I carry spring for him
and when I sleep he seeks it out.
Even if the dead can’t return
they do all the same
for the living light the way
with dreams.


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