TO DAD – A POST-MORTEM APPRECIATION
Everywhere I turn these days
I am repeatedly reminded of how well
You taught me to do life
To negotiate my way
Through the ever-changing maze of daily intricacies
People, places, things
In a unique and succinct style
Permeated by humor and hutzpah
Patience and passion
Determination and decency.
From you I have learned a multitude of many matters
Like how to paper a dirty toilet seat
Or to ask to speak with someone’s supervisor
And gently cajole them to meet my administrative needs
And, of course, to remember to warm my car on cold winter mornings.
For all of these, and many more I am ever-grateful
Daily, moment by moment I now appreciate
The legacy of functional skills you have transmitted
Undeniably indispensable as I navigate my way through mid-life
In this uncertain age of post-millennial stress.
And yet, in the wake of your sudden death
To my surprise and consternation
I now see with a growing sense of clarity
How I have yet to master with maturity
Qualities of spirit and human virtues
You taught only by silent example
In between the pauses and sighs of your own struggles:
A quiet certitude about life’s upsets
A non-religious faith in final outcome
Patience, persistence and a silent, unbroken trust.
And now that you are dead and buried
The learning that remains, I must do on my own.
Perhaps guided by your other-worldly Presence
I can now harvest inherited seeds never before noticed
Watered intermittently by erratic night-time tears of longing
And fertilized by earth thrown upon your coffin
Just weeks ago, in the dead of winter.
And so, missing you as deeply as I do, my father
Even if I warmed up my car this cold winter morning
Sunny days and springtime of rebirth
Still feel a long way off, a long way off.
Simcha Raphael, Ph.D.
January 22, 2003
A GRIEF POEM FOR MY FATHER
Coagulates of emotional pain
Surf the highways and bi-ways
Of body and being
In, around and through
The interwoven arteries
Of my weary physical body.
As I watch
With the eye of contemplation
I see pain bubbles
Coagulated love-energy released
Rushes of grief, anger, hurt
Traversing circuitous crevices
Beneath layers of skin and flesh.
These energy surges
Of grief and pain
Where do they originate?
And where are they going?
Of the subtle interior
Regions of psyche and body
Reveals to me
Grief originates in the heart
A bi-product of
Holding on to love
Into what is
What once was.
In its organic wisdom
Pumps and pulsates
Patterns of pain
Granules of grief
Locked places of longing
To renew, re-balance
Life and spirit
As I sit in holy meditation
Witnessing grief in my body
I am graced to see
These wayward grief bubbles
Of love and yearning
The body’s natural response to death
Dissolving into the space of the heart
Renewing and revitalizing
My love for you my father, for you.
Simcha Raphael, Ph.D.
February 28, 2003