Sunday, November 17, 2013
Each step he takes is toward the door
That small patch of pimples
He hadn’t even noticed
A step toward the door
But yet he still puts his undershirt on backwards
And forgets to zip his fly
And wants me to ride with him to school each morning
Even if I am required to break away just out of sight of the bike lock-up
One step forward
One step back from the door
Am I counting, no
Am I paying attention, yes
Does it matter, yes
An old friend called last week
His son had taken an apartment
And he wasn’t a happy man, my friend
To the door and through it
His son had gone
Into his own home
Signed, sealed and delivery accepted
He must have done something right, my friend decided
But those were only words to bide him over
To the next realization
And less a moment of self-congratulation
Than a reluctant recognition of the inevitable
My friend did well by his son
But ultimately he was helpless
From first step to goodbye
Any more than I could delay those pimples from blossoming
Brightly, proudly, defiantly
On that soft face
The face I wait for every morning fresh from bed
And now, in the afternoons
Nearly anxious at the window
Watching for his soon-to-be-replaced blue bike
His knees brushing the handle bars as he peddles furiously and obliviously
Round the last corner and across the last street
Until he is safely, if temporarily, home
November 17, 2013
Monday, September 09, 2013
Waiting for the hum
With the window open
To the sharp night
Bright and all but empty
Nothing but the sound
Of my blinking eyes
And the soupy thoughts
Of a restless night
Sloshing in my brain
Too soon still
For the rescue
Of a better noise
Comfort amidst the chaos
Wake up trucks
And cabs and trains
Rise racket that blankets me
Ease this too sharp stillness
Loose me in your clamor
And carry me
And gracious wasted rest
August 29, 2007
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Limping to the big moon
At this time of day my eyes don’t focus – I don’t allow them to. There’s time for that later in the day. But I know I’m not writing this in longhand because the sound of my keyboard is like a dull irregular heartbeat, thud, thud, thudding in my ears. I prefer the scratching of my pen point against a piece of crisp lined paper but I’m nearly out of composition books, which, for reasons I haven’t any interest in knowing, are the only things I can write in. Have to make a stop at Wal-Mart when I get back to America and stock up. Not long now – just a few weeks and I’ll be there, then we’ll be there, and then west to the mountains for the first time with HH.
My busted knee is much on my mind these days. It was my first conscious thought when I swung out of bed this morning and made my way to the bathroom. I move carefully because more than anything else I don’t want the damned thing to pop again; I don’t want to feel that feeling again, but I probably will.
Walking in the big mountains, the biggest our big country has to offer. I won’t be scaling cliffs or tackling desert crags but it will be challenge enough. The big sky, big land, big moon are waiting for me and my busted knee. I’ll wrap it up and wear the proper shoes and maybe even carry a stick for the downhill parts but I’ll be thinking all the time, thinking about that nascent balloon waiting to swell and hobble me.
I read a story this week about a man who had spent his life in the mountains. One hot summer day, his knee gave out at the midpoint of a long hike. It ballooned, as he described it, and it was only through sheer will and great pain that he made it out, to be followed by years of recuperation. I doubt he takes a step without first thinking what it might mean for his knee.
So off to the big moon I limp, wrapped in elastic and urging my 9-year-old on. He won’t want to do it but I’ll be insistent and on busted old knee lead the way.
June 26, 2013
Friday, June 21, 2013
A Wonderful Ride
Today as I made my way home from HH’s school, I was savoring the ride, enjoying the canopied dirt path that runs beside the water, acknowledging familiar faces, saying good morning to the children, many of whom I do not know personally but who know me. I’ve been teaching an English AG for the last four years and I am a familiar and somewhat unusual face at school. My white beard and the fact that I am a good 20 years older than most of the parents – 30 years older than some – set me apart from the other parents and make it easy for the children to remember me. I love being around the kids and when they attempt to speak with me in English, I am genuinely touched.
Looking back is something of a habit for me but there is much to look forward to and I want to be prepared for it. So I will say goodbye to this special school when HH and his class hold their end-of-school party in a few weeks and will look forward to a few more mornings riding along the canals when he starts Gymnasium in the fall. His new school is only a stone’s throw from his grade school; a short distance as the crow flies but a major leap forward in his development. I don’t expect I will be accompanying him to and from school much longer. He will enter Gymnasium as a boy but will exit as a young man.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
About you ...
About six years ago I posted a request. The responses were so interesting that I thought I would try it again.
If you stopped in here on purpose, or if you came here by chance and stayed a while, I'd like to know why.
If you stopped in here on purpose, or if you came here by chance and stayed a while, I'd like to know why.
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
There was a big soccer match last night. HH had two of his friends over to watch. I went to bed thirty minutes into the first half. I hadn’t slept well the night before and just pooped out. They must have been very quiet because I didn’t hear a thing. It also helped (the cause of my sleep at any rate) that the game didn’t provide and scores for our side (Dortmund) so there were no resulting screams and demonstrations following a goal. The other side scored two (Real Madrid) but they weren’t enough to prevail in the semi-finals and now Dortmund will go on to challenge the winner of tonight’s Bayern v. Barcelona match. This I will try to watch. I don’t know at this early hour if the boys will be back over again tonight. The following day is not a holiday like today. May 1st is a national holiday in much of Europe so last night was a perfect night for the boys to whoop and holler and stay up late.
My wife and I couldn’t help smiling and laughing as we observed HH and his mates on the daybed watching the match. I watched them more than I watched the match – it was much more interesting to me. HH was fully engaged, knowledgeable and enthusiastic. He loves watching sports – nothing that was ever important to me - and in that respect his engagement with sports is something of a relief. He’s not a carbon-copy of his father – thank you Great Spirit!
I’ve spent a lot of time with HH – more than most fathers. For most of his first nine years, I have been his primary parent. His mother was often away for work and my work permits me to be at home much of the time. I have it on authority that my wife didn’t select me at random. She is a bit younger than I am and is a beautiful and successful woman. It was her idea to have a child with me. I was 50 and divorced and the idea of getting married and starting a family was just about the last thing on my mind. But my wife had other ideas and she has a way of getting what she wants. I will be eternally grateful to her for having the faith to entrust our child to my stewardship.
She is also a wonderful mother. HH adores her and the two of them share a love of sports. He is fully bilingual but we live in Germany and he speaks more German than he does English. When he is with his mother, the conversation is always in German and often I find myself left behind in the conversation, if not excluded. It doesn’t really bother me. It is only annoying when he surreptitiously tries to maneuver extra TV time.
I’ve spent thousands of hours with my son. We have played together, creating entire communities of imaginary characters that peopled our world for many years. Those characters have faded into the background and his friends at school and in the choir now occupy the premier position in his life. His mother has come home and is now with us nearly every day and that has brought changes as well. Sometimes I feel marginalized but I believe it is a good thing. HH is having the chance, as one period in his life ends and another begins, to have his mother and his father with him and he is the richer for it. And our family is the richer for it. And I am relieved.
There are times when I feel my influence over my son might be too strong. I am a far from perfect man and the last thing I want is for my son to be burdened with my faults. I often replay that old adage, ‘an apple never falls far from the tree.’ It may have some truth in it, but I am convinced that HH is his own man and his love of sports is evidence to me that he can and will make his own decisions in life. He will no doubt be influenced by me, that is unavoidable, but for the most part I feel good about the way he was raised for his first nine years. They were important years and they were rich years. Now, I look forward to learning from him. There has always been a strong dialogue in our relationship but as he approaches puberty, he is becoming more reticent. I expected that and it will be a challenge and a joy to have the mental room to listen to him more sensitively as he is now able, albeit reluctant, to share his thoughts.
I am also relieved to be off the near solo watch I have been keeping. It takes a toll. There were too many nights when HH was sick with something I couldn’t quite identify and I had to call or visit the emergency room and engage in German with the attendant nurse or doctor. Thankfully, most young Germans speak some English. But it was the fact of being alone here in the middle of the night with a sick child that really got to me. I came to have a new and profound appreciation of the challenges facing a single parent.
And even though our situation was far removed from the realities of war or starvation or rampant disease, I also felt a powerful connection with the billions of us on this planet who fear for their child’s well-being. Nothing I experienced could compare with a parent desperately trying to protect their child in a war zone, but I made that mental stretch from this chair in my kitchen at 4AM, alone and fearful that my son had contracted meningitis again or was bleeding internally following a severe blow to his chest when he fell from his bike earlier in the day. So I am relieved.
Two of us brought a third life into this world and life is better when three we are together.
May 1, 2013