Patrilineal

Patrilineal
My father died when he was younger than I am now.
My younger brother, who was a father, is also gone
from our lives.  How do I reminisce, make them real
again in my mind?
People who were tall and strong to a younger me;
people I could count on to keep their word, honor
responsibilities.  Able to unbend into happy
foolishness, extend stories to take me where I
would not have known to be.
But that’s all about me.  Can I see them each as
men of their own?
My dad as a young man was dashing, convivial
in company, serious about the task at hand, a
well-reasoned thinker with a facility for speaking
with passion.  He had a buoyancy, a charm.
He would, with good humor, relate how when he
was dating my mom, my grandmother did not approve.
She suggested my mom cook for him, a job she knew
my future mother could not successfully do.
“The burgers were burnt.  Who noticed?” he would
quip, love shining in his sure blue eyes.
The Navy tales, where he won World War II in the
South Pacific, while youngest on the ship – like
when on leave, though quite sick, he went out drinking
with his pals, and would ever insist he was cured by
the alcohol.
On a happy whim he would whistle or play jaunty
tunes on his harmonica.
He loved to argue as an exercise in logic, often
espoused less popular views.
Unconvinced by religion, he would suggest our
Universe might exist on the back of a giant fish.
(His father’s family founded a church in Europe and
again when they emigrated to the USA, that
preached a radical Hellfire Christianity.)
He grew up poor and abused, never used as an
excuse, but as impetus to do well.
And what of little brother, born into my life
when I was so young; gone so long before I’m
done discovering who he was.  A precious
blue-eyed son, eager to engage, to play, to join
in games.  Fascinated by financial math,
collecting coins.  Learning his world working for
pay from an early age.  Growing tall and strong,
bright and athletically inclined, a golden child he
seemed in those early years, blessed with lifelong
friends to be.
Later years he appeared to live within a quiet
wisdom, extruded from confusions, fears, disease,
life’s exigencies, in the years between.   tbc
* *  *  *  *
Two old men in Heaven, at ease under the World Tree,
share musings of philosophy, their darkest nights,
coldest days.  Was Nietzsche right?
Did life amaze us with frightful beauty?
Did we survive precious trials to reap rewards, treasure
we could never find without misfortune as clever guide
inspiring new strategies to form?
Deafening nightmares, desperate storms,
brave rainbows, peaceful dawns.
Two old men, weathered, withered, wise.
Listen, be risen, by the gentle smiles we remember
in their envisioned eyes.

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