Baba (Dear Father)
The summer solstice came and went—and now
the date approaches when you left this life
and so returned to nothingness again.
So mother too had left, a month before—
like you, before the school-year came to end
and set me free, for August and July—
too late, that year, for her—and then for you.
And so your daughter too had gone—before
you both—and left us all disconsolate.
Now school is ending—and there’s time to pause,
returning home—to sit within a park,
the playground of a school, bereft of trees—
with tar and concrete, where there should be grass.
So here I sit and bask in summer’s sun—
or swelter, as those summers come to mind,
beneath those skies that arced in brilliance,
beneath that sun that burned our darkened skins—
and in that land where you and I were born.
How close and distant were the father, son—
how rare and dear the tears that you and I
had wept, across the years and continents.
By culture, I was bred for reverence—
and more for elders than for all the gods.
But here I sit and weep, in quietude,
with little children’s voices wafting by,
remembering you, who once was little too—
and flew your kite, beneath that tropic sun.
How many children cry for parents lost,
how many parents for their children gone—
how many for a sibling or a friend,
or elder, younger—who is now no more…
So little time for joy—or even grief,
amidst the hustle of the city’s streets,
amidst the passage of a harried life…
How precious then, this time at summer’s start—
to pause and find the time to think of you.
2017 June 22, Thursday, 4:31 pm
playground, Public School 186
between 76th and 77th Streets, off 16th Avenue
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York