Memorial

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Summer

 
He worked nights, leaving as we climbed
the tall narrow staircase to our shared room,
up into the summer heat, the steel fan
in the hallway window
pulling cool, leafy breezes
from our waving trees.

We heard the kitchen screen-door
slap shut, the Pontiac roaring to life,
and watched as slowly he backed down
the dark driveway, and was gone.

And gladly we glided through misty dreams,
flying over tree-tops, baseball games
and cool swimming pools,

when finally the robin’s enthusiasm
and the fresh morning sun
flashing through green leaves
woke us as we heard the car stop
and Dad call cheerfully, “I’m home!”

The air already scented with bacon and coffee,
we flew down the groaning stairs,
two steps at a bound,
and eagerly started another golden
summer’s day.

 

Winter

 
One winter day I did something wrong, and
he got angry and drew his worn leather belt
From the loops of his grey, stained work trousers
To teach me a lesson.
Terrified, I ran upstairs to the big closet
and trembled behind coats and sweaters,
as heavily he came up the steps,
righteous anger ringing in his voice,
tears flowing down my cheeks;

when my big brother, teenage and strong,
called defiance to him and drew him down
into the back yard to fight him
and save me, angered by his

memory of so many other beatings,

determined to stop it now!

But facing his own father

he could not fight back, and

weeping, I watched my dad
pummel my brother’s defenseless face,
far worse than any beating
I would have gotten.

From kitchen window,
I screamed to them both
to stop!

That was when my father saw,
in the kitchen window’s glare
his own father’s angry eyes,
and felt his father’s fists

landing hard on his own face,
and he stopped and

embraced my brother.
 

 

Spring  
Seven years after my father died
my first child, my son, was born in spring,
and in the gleaming, sterile room
I first held him in my arms
as, with his impossibly wide, blue eyes
he calmy gazed right into my raw soul,
and I felt in a sudden rush of warmth,
a timeless love
and at last discovered
the reason for my life.

It was then
I understood my father.

In my son’s face I saw my own
and felt my father’s eyes gazing
in warm wonder on me
and I glowed with
unconditional love for my son.

(30 Jan 2011/11-2017)

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Light, directly infused…

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Photo Brian Federle, “Sunset at Carlsbad,” Jan. 2016

“Faith reaches the intellect not through the senses
but in a light directly infused by God.” Thomas Merton

Rising from the sea
death’s veil
overwhelms me.

Brief day fails,
fills the sky
with starry sail,

wandering planets,
moonbeams
cold and bright –

holy spirit
fills faithful night.

(2012: Revised 2017)

Golden Day, Emerald Summer

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Mt Hood National Forest, 2014, Brian Federle

Golden day, emerald summer,
buds erupting
to green clusters
of sweet fruit –

so sit with me awhile
in the morning shade
as the sun slides
imperceptibly toward night

and see how small birds alight
on St. Francis as he blesses
all God’s green world with

life rioting, wind-
blown seeds,
weeds wedging into small,
narrow spaces between
slender blades
of tender spring grass;

and though
I cannot see you,
know that I love you
as I know
you love me.

So together
we’ll listen
as the morning
breeze sings
of life never-
ending!

Wisdom

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Photo by Brian Federle, Hawaii, 2016.

“I beside him as his craftsman, and I was his delight day by day,
playing before him all the while,playing on the surface of his earth;
and I found delight in the human race” Proverbs 8:22-31

Dark mountains rise
to meet the sun.

Night drops
to the western sea.

Skyward
lifting joy to heaven

as dark waves clash
washing clean the past —

all pain subsides,
fulfilled.

To My Wife in Mourning

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bright day,still birds, black
spots on the blue sky, slightly
sway in trees, and wait

for winter to stay
or summer at last to come
like we’re waiting for

the pain to stop, death
to give way to the winter
sun’s soft, warm embrace.

(our son, Brian Federle, 3/4/1986:3/25/2017)

Atonement

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“There must be a time when the man of prayer goes to pray as if it were the first time in his life he had every prayed.” Thomas Merton

Grey mist
rises and falls
enfolding parched hills
easing autumn’s harsh pain

saturating the spreading valley
with gathering rain
and mercy.

(1 Oct. 2012)

The Humble Man Prays

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Sunlight through Dirty Window

“A man who is truly humble cannot despair, because in the humble manthere is no longer any such thing as self-pity.” Thomas Merton

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I am like this window
streaked with rain,
obscured by
blowing dust,
neglected
yet holding firm
against the wind.

I know
that some fine, clear day
you’ll open
the door,
wipe my sins away
and clean at last
I’ll dissolve
into your face.

(10 Nov 2012)