Sunday, November 3, 2013

Donal Mahoney- A Poem

Gift from the Daughter Who Disappeared

Your package arrived last night. 
When my wife brought it in, I said, 
"Make certain it's not ticking."
It wasn't, so she opened it. 
I grabbed the wedding pictures
without reading your letter

and saw you and your groom
graciously attired except for
the flannel pajama bottoms.
"My God," I yelled, "they had 
a Hare Krishna wedding!"
Not that there's anything
wrong with that.

My wife said your letter explains 
why you wore pajama bottoms 
over your wedding outfits--
to stay warm on a wintry day.
I should have guessed. 

The package arrived late
so I felt it unfair to read your letter
when I wasn't at my best.
After all these years,  
one more day in absentia 
shouldn't be held against me.

Your letter looks long, ominous.
I would expect nothing less. 
I asked my wife to read it 
to see if any land mines lurk.
She said she saw none
but she wasn't at our Nagasaki 
so she might have missed 
some deft allusions. 

I'm more careful these days
guarding the remnants.
On dark Tuesday mornings, 
when I wheel the garbage cans out,
I make certain your brother isn't 
on horseback at the curb,
scabbard unbuckled, 
primed for another debate.
You were both so young.
He was a tyke who suffered 
the fallout, not the conflagration.

You look good in the photos;
your new husband as well. 
The priest looks the way 
priests used to look.
He'd be good in old movies 
standing in for Spencer or Bing.

You're a beautiful lady
as the pictures make clear. 
Always were, always will be.
Please know it's difficult 
after all these years to dodge 
bombs of memory dropped 
by what happened
and what never will be.

I promise to get back to you
about all that you've sent
and all that I haven't.
Some day we must
catalogue everything
in case a genealogist 
is born into the family 
generations hence
and wants to know 
what we know.

Till then, much love.
Give my best to the groom.
Tell him pajamas at his wedding 
are only the beginning.
A monocle or pince-nez is next.
Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

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