Remembering Robert

Issue FourPoetry

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By Geoff Budden

 

At home in taverns, not in homes,

you left when your daughter was four years old.

Your own final home was a needle hotel:

Skid Row, Vancouver; 1962.

 

She grew up among adults who hated you,

but you’d held her hand on the way to the store.

Nuzzled her neck with your scratchy chin.

A father’s lost love hurts her still.

 

And so you came to your final room,

by that faraway ocean, where all roads end.

And the very worst thing that you ever did,

you did to your family on a drunk, spiteful night.

 

But as you were dying were you blessed to remember

a cold starry night in February, 1941?

You were driving a sleigh home, from a family visit;

behind you, under comforters, your wife, daughter and son.

 

Just a moment of joy in a lifetime of madness

but a night no less true than all those that came after.

That ride on a sleigh is your daughter’s first memory

and in her own dying your gift to remember.

 

Artwork by Jackie Benney. Published with permission of the artist.