Homage to my father in the summer of 2008

by Al Preciado, copyright 2009

This was the summer
The summer of a thousand wildfires
This was the summer of my nephew playing Stairway to Heaven
The summer of the hell hounds of pain
bounding up ladders into our houses
This was the summer of my father’s struggle and then passing
Into another world, into arms of his long absent mother
This was the last summer of my father
He of immense, irrefutable strength
A bear of a bull of a dark-skinned man
Abandoned by his father, a coward retreating back to Mexico
Leaving my Dad a father-less child,
unprotected from the evils of the world
Staining his innocent, young heart,
metamorphosing into a palpable, unwavering
rage of self-abuse, of family abuse spilling out his body
like sweat out of pores
But he was my father and he did give a rat’s ass
In the end he did not abandon me, my brothers, my sisters, my mother
He was a man with a scowl etched permanent, a furious man
Working like a dog to put a roof over our many heads
Protecting us from rain, if not tears
His Teamster hands were as big as a catchers mitt
His voice as deep as the Pacific booming his unshakable, unsinkable faith
That he would find a way a way to shelter us
with the umbrella of his hardened heart
Leading us up the wooden stairs of warmth, food, comfort
Here is the long and short of it
He was forged by the fires of humiliation, abuse and violence
And yet in the end , here he was a good man laying in a hospital bed
Five stairway landings up, as close to the sky as he ever got
Surrounded by grandchildren , adoring him like a kind king
I remember him crawling up our front yard stairs,
past the rocks he inserted in cement
with my grandfather’s help, past the roses
he planted to honor my mother,
up the two-story
and stumbling in a drunken fog to me and putting his arms
around me and saying;
I wish I could say I love you, but I can’t
But he did
So I let those ribbons that were tied to the stone of grief loose
The ribbons of memory, the childhood creeks he took us to,
the cactus tuna fruit
he peeled as easy as he parked an 18-wheeler,
the Eucalyptus, the BBQ’s, the pancakes,
the menudo aromas, the chili grinding under his strong hands, sure hands
These are scents I will breathe in and think of as homage
to my father as I
let them loose into the blue, blue sky
of my Father’s California

Categories: Uncategorized

1 reply

  1. A beautiful pome, celebrating the aroma of a bitter life.
    My father died too in two-thousand-and-eight, too far away from me to grieve easily. this poem helps. Thank you. Erik
    [Note to Bea: this inspired my own poem, I’m sending it to you directly.]


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