THE NIGHT MY FATHER DIED
After listening to Pierre Bensusan.
The night my father died, I turned to music,
An interest we two had always shared.
Of course his passing left me unprepared,
Despite the endless year he’d been so sick.
But what to offer him, which songs to pick?
Neither of us musicians, we both cared
Deeply for Dixieland, though we despaired
Of ever playing ourselves. What did the trick,
That sleepless dawn his absence lingered near,
Was something Dad himself would never choose:
A French guitarist he won’t live to hear,
Whose lyrical effusions helped me lose
Some of my grief, a little of my fear,
Fashioned from pain a comfort I could use.
Son of the noted ichthyologist C. Lavett Smith, 1927-2015, Robert Lavett Smith was raised in New Jersey, and has lived since 1987 in San Francisco, where for the past sixteen years he has worked as a Special Education Paraprofessional. He has studied with Charles Simic and the late Galway Kinnell. He is the author of several chapbooks and three full-length poetry collections, the most recent of which is The Widower Considers Candles (Full Court Press, 2014). Two poems from this newest book have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.