My Father

My father, Allen Medford Fink, died of lung cancer in 1986 at age 72. He was not an easy man. As I explained once to an adult nephew, he was our father, so we wanted to be close to him, but it could be a dangerous place to stand. He taught us to be strong. But as I grow older myself, I can see that if my brother and I are, in our own ways, more gentle, well, he must certainly have given us the seeds of this gentleness as well.

 My father was 42 years old when I was born, so he was dead by the time my sons Patrick and Nathan were born. But his presence remains. In the Buddhist cosmology, the “three times” of past, present and future and not as solid as we ordinarily take them to be. Perhaps this is how I know that if he were to meet my sons today, I am certain he would be amazed. I am certain that he would be most pleased.

My father with me, the baby, and my big brother Joe on the lawn of our small house in Detroit in 1958.

My father with me, the baby, and my big brother Joe on the lawn of our small house in Detroit in 1958.

Written April 2015 in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah —

rains

the wind

is beginning to howl

a late season snow coming in.

by morning, everything

will be blown back

into white.

 

I remember my father

staring out the kitchen window,

massive and simmering,

considering the evening sky.

 

he left the farm just before the war-

came North, but never lost the habit

of weather,

 

of watching the clouds

for signs of impending danger

of flashing from sun into thunder

with no warning.

 

we’re grateful for the snow-

it’s been dry here for too long.

 

redemption can come

through the blessings of rain

of a rain that falls hard all day

of a rain that might protect us

 

from the lightning

from rage without warning

from the flames

t

hat can race up from the valley

and sweep us all away

incinerating everything

 

 

 

©jafink/oldbones.newsnow.com

the heart of nothing

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near Danish flat, just past

yellow cat, the highway drops

from the hills, flattens

 

into an arrow

pointed straight at the heart

of nothing at all.

 

my father

was an Ohio farmboy, but always

loved the desert

 

would stand staring into it

for hours from the edge

of the motel

 

parking lot. all

that room—room enough for all

the dreams, all

 

the disappointment.

we buried his ashes in a small

square hole in a hillside

 

in ohio—

redwing blackbirds and endless

rows of corn.

 

up ahead, a storm

has gathered, blue tendrils of rain

reaching down

 

to stroke the desert

as if tomorrow has already

begun to cry

 

on our behalf

knowing as it must

all that lies ahead.

 

windows down,

I kill the lights and stomp

on the gas. fat drops

 

slap the windshield

while the wind tears at my hair.

I’m flying now

 

accelerating

into the black heart of the storm

spinning free

 

like an arrow

pointed straight at the heart

of nothing at all.

 

© Old Bones, New Snow/ JA Fink

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