Finding My Father’s Dream
Visiting my mother in her mountain home,
she tells me a story of finding pink baby mice
nested in the glove compartment of the rusted jeep
she still uses to get up and down the hill in winter.
I say we need to remove them, remind her of father’s story:
the engine catching fire from a nest under the hood,
how he’d just been able to quell the flames with handfuls of snow.
She remembers, asks if I can do the deed now that he’s gone,
so I put on gloves, walk to the forest-green vehicle,
open the compartment. Find a nest of tissue and chewed paper,
but no mice -- so begin to clean out the contents.
Find old vehicle registrations dating back twenty years,
a warped first aid kit, an owner’s manual, pages fused with decay.
A dusty pair of my father’s sunglasses. In the very back,
untouched by mice, two folded pieces of paper
with diagrams for new hexagons -- meditation rooms --
he’d planned to build on the property, and a still-sharp pencil.
He’d pause in the shade from cutting lumber,
take the pencil out, sketch his latest design -- this hexagon
seven feet in diameter, each side opening out onto a small square deck
so that the whole picture becomes that of a lotus blossom.
His dream flowers into mine -- pink, naked,
made of tissue, scraps of paper, indecipherable manuals.
What a son carries from a father in secret gloved compartment:
an empty nest finally cleaned, waiting. I replace the pencil,
the first aid kit, the new registration, take the dusty sunglasses
and twin pieces of paper to my mother as I might have when a boy,
hold them in my hands for her to see.