Posted by: Peadar Ban | August 25, 2018

In Which I Write A Poem About Good Old Dad

My Father’s Song, for My Brother:
A Brief Chronicle of the Time of
Edmund John Gallaher 4/6/1913 to 4/26/1969

I will sing a song of my father, sing as I remember him
Nearly half a century’s gone, though his light has not grown dim.
He wanders still my memories, pacing, as I go,
Beside me, faithfully and gently; holding hand and heart just so.

The years amuse me in their passing by
Tolled like bells in some steepled church nearby
With times recalled ringing soft, ringing deep
Across the fields of days, the hills of years
Between the last loud laughter, the bitter tears;
Great wonder of his stature. I do weep
At good and ill most equally to see
My father covered in our sweet love who
From deep love fled until he turned, to me!
And swore his love that was ever and would be.

I think he was old before he could stand
On soft boned toddler’s legs, stretching a hand
For help to his own about the world.
His soft brown eyes, his bright red curls
Begging attention paid to him as due
All children. And they not there, the two
Strangers, children themselves; he a burden
More than love’s bright sign, promise made. But then
The world and need, which only God knows now,
To work and woe, far and long, would they go.
He would then be mere one more on the floor
Among the bundles dropped just inside the door
To be picked up when and if “Poor Eddie”
Should be brought next wherever was “could be.”

Grown indeed, more weed than flower in the sun
He was, uprooted, shoved; and always one
Among many, the little after thought!
“Poor Eddie” was the family’s name, and ought
It not have been so? He had shelter, sure,
But never had he home or place secure.

There’s a photo of him on a bridge
Easily leaning, in summer whites, with
An innocent, confident gaze, hoping
Under a clear sky; his manner open
It seems whenever I look at it. Those eyes,
I think each time that it might be me,
There looking into the future to see
The ones he’d love, whom he could call his own
At another time in the world full grown.

I know the place, though now it would be strange
So much time since then, so much that has changed.
That he was there is fact, and that he smiled
At least one time. “Poor Eddie”, lonely child
So young for these unnatural shocks. There
He seems composed although; complete and fair.

Soon he would be married and father of
Three. All in a decade come to love
The beauty of bride, mother, family
A real life to live, and place to thrive free.
Now his own in his own he must have thought
Among the bounty love and hard work brought.

So, they were! The very truth. Joy, happiness
And steady bliss with spouse and “spawn” in paradise.
The four little rooms in the big city
That never slept, simply furnished, pretty.
With a chair from here, a pillow from there;
The place in the basement, at the back where
Kids could play in the yard and lot nearby,
Where they had moved, escaping rats red eyes
And roaches’ filth. Worse than Harlem, even,
Our mother told him the day we were leaving.

He worked his job, nor was ever stayed from
Swift completion of his appointed rounds
The first fifteen brief, bright, years. Paradise, bliss,
As we, all of us, smiled, danced, sang, kissed
The days and seasons going by in turn.
Our opened door, our hearts, to all who came.

Oh, he had found, he made, family, home
Which he had always hoped to name his own
So Why? we wondered who lived with, in, him
The change so slight, then strong. Dark! Dawn, came dim
Which had always been bright. And night, black threat,
Grim, violent, bleak, endless and wild. Full blown
Rages in the dying light, great fear, deep harm!
Home, once sweet home, became a prison camp.

Then he disappeared : a deluge of booze
A mighty river of despair, his bruised
Soul swept away. While we mutely
Witnessed the catastrophe, “Poor Eddie” left us
Moved deep inside his own whisky soaked home
Where he at least would be safe, numb, Alone.

I saw him last alive on earth, breathing, barely
In the keep of loving nuns whose one care
Was to see him safely home to God
Along the way he’d so long tried to trod.
Immovable now, but with love made new
And in their prayers bound for heaven soon.

Two days before he left (what he’d left long
Before) we spoke last words; our own last song
Telling of the love each to each still bore.
And, doing that, left. Done then! There was no more.

peg August 15, 2018


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