Father

The ritual my father performed
just to make a cup of coffee,
the paper towels on the counter top,
cup and spoon and jar arranged just so
waiting for the kettle to whistle,
comes to me sitting on the edge of the bed
placing my watch, cigarettes, ashtray,
glass of dietcoke and hanky clockwise
in front of the radio on
the nightstand, just so.

He never told anyone to move
from His Chair once the cup
was brewed, just said “are you
about done sitting there?” then stood
expectantly – somehow it never
took long – until the perpetrator
came to their senses and he
could arrange the cup and more
paper towels and usually some ice cream
cookies or other health food on the end table
getting Comfortable to peer down his nose
through tribifocals at the evening papers
browse through Outdoor Life watch the tube
or mabey take a snooze until it was time
to get up and do something else, like go to bed.

Sometimes, in the livng room lit
only by the television screen,
with my feet on the coffee table
(he favored a favorite footstool)
and my hands folded across my belly, elbows up
on the arms of the chair causing my shoulders
to kind of hunch up so my neck appears
to disappear, head tilted slightly forward,
in perfect stillness but with anticipatory
tension because we know we’ll have to get up
sometime, the way I’m sitting is him, damn,
I AM him, part of me wants to move and be me
again but something else holds me fast so that
he stays with me for a little while, and I look
through his eyes again for a little while
for a little while wondering
what he might say were he here.

Meditation on the Toilet Seat

From the turn of the century:

“Always put the toilet seat down.” was all the answer I could get
when I asked for words of wisdom
on the night before my wedding. I was hoping
for something grander, of course, at twenty-seven
we want the secrets of life to have
a more dramatic ring

But since that was all the Fatherly Advice he would give,
I felt obliged to follow it scrupulously. Over the years
I have lowered every toilet seat I happened to pass
an exercise not unlike Zen Koans, calisthenics, or
praying with rosary beads, in that the
good you get

remains largely unnoticed until
the moment of satori epiphany, which in this case was
twenty years of bending. . .and the realization that
putting the seat down puts the Other first,
the Golden Rule in micro-Cosmic practice, a seemingly
small act of consideration until you Get

It: no courtesy is insignificant, and the secrets of life
ain’t no secret. If they weren’t true, they wouldn’t BE
clichés and proverbs, and the less time we spend
in dispute, the more time we have to
put toilet seats down.