I Didn’t Have To Look


I didn’t have to look.
When Father’s Day came around,
as all those Junes ago did,
I think I recall the Old Man
doing what he mostly always did
on any other Sunday morning.
I knew he’d be there in the kitchen,
the invisible trail of perking coffee
preceding the cloudy footprint
of his first-of-the-day Camel.
And, above it all, the blessed aroma
of smoke, sizzle and salt, the price
some porcine martyr paid for the sins
against the good health gods we’d
soon share. It was Heaven.

Years later, I might sit and talk
with the Old Man, but almost never
look him in the eyes, those
once-scary glowing sapphires I wish
I’d inherited from him instead of
this III at the end of my name.
I never got the chance to wish him
a proper goodbye before he was taken from us,
of course, while he was making morning coffee.
I think maybe that’s a good thing.
I’d never want to trade my final
olfactory image of him I hang in my memory —
of cigarettes, motor oil and cans of Genny —
for some hospital room’s antiseptic memory
of my Old Man. For that, I’m glad…
I didn’t have to look.

A Father’s Day theme to my the latest exercise in my little arc expressing the what one might glean from one sense by using a different one. In this case I used Smell to express Sight. And what I wouldn’t give to get a good whiff of the Old Man one more time. And, yeah, that towhead in the snappy two-tone Thom McAn’s and snap-on bow tie is the same scribbling guy whose hair would turn black as Dad’s and then silver as Mom’s.

3 thoughts on “I Didn’t Have To Look

  1. Your dad and my dad probably smelled quite similar to one another since they shared many of the same elements, i.e. Coffee, Camel cigarettes, motor oil, etc. It guess it was that generation? Even though Daddy quit smoking for the last 16 years of his life, he still had that smell when he died.

  2. Interesting; how we recall loved ones, not by a picture but by routins & habits that we remember more vividly. Wonderful write indeed 🙂

  3. I really enjoy reading your poetry and short fiction because it jars me with a male perception of many of my female experiences. I have long wished I could spend a little bit of time with a male brain inside my skull – and you are probably the next best thing. Thanks for being real, Joseph.

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