Thursday, April 16, 2009

National Poetry Month: A Shadow of Chris Thomas

Poetry has a poignant power to capture the shadows of lives. Chris Thomas, the pen name of one of my great college loves. We had an intensity that was painful on every level. We tried to get together for real many times, but the stars never aligned for us. One of the last times we met was a year after my father died. He later sent me a printed page from a small journal with this poem he had written. He is a cognitive scientist (working for the likes of IBM, Lucent, etc.) who at one time published fairly frequently. I hear Chris is on his second marriage. I hope he has found happiness.

Today is the anniversary of my father’s death, and I recently came across Chris's poem while cleaning through my mother’s house.

A Daughter’s Question—
One Year After Her Father’s Death

I’ve seen you stealing sleep
From tired old women on the train.
I’ve looked down and
seen you pour out my sleeves,
raining from my fingers.

It’s so like you—gone for 6 weeks,
leaving me in lengthening solitude,
only to feel you, there in my bed,
and the quake of morning.
Why are you here?

I set the table for four not three.
Something I feed you keeps you alive
and I fear of self-inspection.
A birthday passes without you,
Yet somewhere you dress for church on Sunday.

A passage from some obscure Irish novel
with no source attributed
is scrawled on my bathroom wall.
But I live alone, that’s what bothers me.
You’re everywhere I bring you.


Kathy said...

Lovely! Thank you.