The Sadness of Wrens
Each year on the anniversary of his passing,
my father comes to me in a dream.
We talk like father and son,
ignoring the fact that he left life behind
like forgotten luggage
on a train station platform.
Last night in our conversation he told me
I had it wrong
But the numbers continue to add up.
Birthdays, bills, pins, pounds.
My wife laughs when I explain my theory of aging,
how it is the giving in that makes us old.
More laughter when I refer to the sadness
of wrens. Birdbrains, she says, no weeping.
But what about their song?
My mother gave me a crate full of old albums,
heavy black vinyl, dusty jazz, Russian masters,
light opera. In the confusion of sleeves,
I found a record labeled with my father's name --
Eugene. He recorded it sometime soon
after returning from the South Pacific,
in a sound booth where he sang
and paid for one copy. When I take it
to a friend who has the equipment to play
78's, we find it is too warped, scratched, faded.
I'm left wondering if it is full of the sorrow
I recall nesting in his voice those last years,
or joyful, glad to be alive.