The gift

Hi everyone,

Our son Jeff Harrison pulled this poem from the files. I wrote it about Sandy’s father, Ralph Kennon, after he died. One day Sandy and I cleaned out her dad’s clothes closet, a sad task, but the act stirred many pleasant memories and the poem grew from them. I offer it here today because I’ve enjoyed thinking back to all those good times and want to share this glimpse into a fine man and his life.

The Gift

I fold his clothes,
recognizing some,
like old acquaintances
not met for a while
that recall stories of the man.

Checking jacket pockets,
my hand pulls out a program:
Westminster Presbyterian, 1996.
They spent most Sundays cooking,
bringing food to share,
left little time to collect
church programs.

This pocket yields a wrapper,
the candy sucked, I’m guessing,
as he crossed a parking lot
keys in hand.
The toothpick’s in here too.

This paperclip? Easy.
Bet he went to the bank that day,
took a deposit, kept the clip.
Waste not want not he’d say.

Black comb, hip pocket.
He had such beautiful hair:
thick, wavy, bright white.
She liked to comb it.
He liked that too.

A man of routine, keeper of receipts,
planner of pool shots,
pitcher of pennies;
ate out on Tuesday,
bowled on Friday,
attended high school reunions.
Organized his clothes front to back,
newest by the door transitioning
by age in a slow march toward the rear.

These pants at the back say garden.
I can see him there,
behind the garage,
tilling his beloved soil,
scooping out rows
like doodlebug holes,
dripping in seeds,
soaking with that old green hose,
intent on the joys
of working alone in the sun.

I fold his clothes,
fill boxes, make lists.
They’re just clothes, really,
without the man.
Whoever gets them
won’t get the stories.

I kept nothing when he died
but now I know
I’ll keep these stories
like books from a library
checked out to cherish again.

Life records it memories.
I fold his clothes
and give thanks.

(C) David L. Harrison, all rights reserved