Summer – July 16, 2014

Posted: July 16, 2014 in Samples of My Writing, Writing Posts

A poem to remember my father and mark the 19th year since he died on July 16, 1995. This poem is from Time Lapse, Black Moss Press, 2012. Here are two pictures of him. The first is of my father and mother taken in River Hills Manitoba in the summer of 1957. The second picture was taken on the Smith farm outside Kenora around 1939 when my father was still a teenager:

Mom and Dad 1957




The final two weeks of my father’s life he spent on the west coast in an early heat wave. The last night back in Calgary, I found him sitting out under the stars enjoying a rare cigarette at three in the morning. That’s the North Star, he said pointing at a particularly bright object. He told me how he used it to find his way home after hunting.

He butted his cigarette on the cement steps of my house and insisted on going up the stairs on his own. I stood below watching each shaky step. He didn’t look back even when he got to the top but kept going to the guest bedroom. When I went up later the door was open a crack and I almost went in but I couldn’t think of what I’d say once there.

He died a week later during morning rush hour, the hospital room already stuffy with summer heat, the city going about its daily business. When I saw him lying on a stretcher in the morgue I couldn’t get used to his deadness and how his body was in this room but he wasn’t. I wanted him to get up and say something but I had to do all the talking.

It is the unyielding of that which is most difficult. The day too hot to be alone in and yet I was.

  1. Bob says:

    Robert, a fine poem in honour of your father. It is the aloneness that is so hard to deal with. The air is so empty of sound and yet it seems to weigh so much more than when our fathers were there. Thanks for this.

  2. blaiseallen says:

    Heartbreaking. I can’t imagine…

  3. Maria Coffey says:

    My mother died in February, aged 92. She was diagnosed with cancer last summer and I was with a lot in England from then on, and constantly by her side for the final 7 weeks. Her loss has shaken me to my core. Thank you for this beautiful poem. It brings memory, sadness and comfort in equal measure.

    • Maria thank you for sharing the story about your mother. I am so sorry to hear of her passing. I’m glad that you got to be with her. I’m also glad this poem helped in some small way too!


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