Stephen Edgington Jordan
August 4, 1932 – May 4, 2015
(Hob Glob Version: Take One) penned, April 24 to May 7, 2015
My Dad died several days ago.
I started this poem before his demise…
I was not able to share it with him, though we did laugh thru many of these memories when I saw him last Christmas.
My first impulse was to write a chronological narrative. But somewhere in the process, the order broke down. The memories came in so thick and gushing that I just had to just plop stuff down; Order be flushed.
I have not yet solidified the voice, so I am using several. The style ranges from immediate prose to flamboyant symbolism. I just started thinking about Dad and spitting verse. I am speaking to him, and about him. I speak about the material world, and the world he helped create in me.
This is a history I share in part with my mother, Ellie Jordan (d 2009) and my siblings Casey, Tien, and Jordan. The poem covers roughly the first fourteen years of my life, stretched across three home states. Life got more complicated after that.
My father is a land
Of burnt orange and umber
Tall grass, and wind speak,
Torrents and thunder…
My father is the smell of varnish'n
cedar sparks, trilling into the sky.
I am smoking a cigar to my dad
Not because he liked the things, nor because of life
He preferred the pipe --- And he is curled,
Like a skin and bone wisp
In a dying bed
This smoke is currency of time and place
I need the hour
And the tug of the smoldering earth
Thick on my eyes, nose and tongue.
I need to remember good things and bad, and things long forgotten.
It is hard, when harvesting the past to know
How much of memory is real
How much is photograph derived.
I consider my first conscious thought:
You are swimming in the ocean with my Mom.
Only, I am not yet born.
Must be the photo. But I do have the shell.
Pastel and neon, swirled in abalone.
Next photographic memory shows me, age two, with hair of platinum silk. I am sitting in a boat, packaged in a float. I don't remember the name of the lake, but I do remember the blue, the white bobbled boats and spray, and the feel of your warm stubble pressed into my cheek.
I remember, riding in the back of cars. The beauty of falling asleep to the purr. Tubes of zinging light. You wake me up and say… Look, that is Hollywood.. I look up, then lap back into dreams.
Later that night we pull into the drive. Placerville. Small farm. The crickets are ablaze. A crisp Sierra-Nevada night shocks my skin:
Is a jump rope of stars
The milky way, arching overhead
Like a spangled rainbow trout…
How many little suns could there be?
I think now of our tepid skies
Could this even be the same universe?