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I just recently had a poem accepted into Iodine Poetry Journal, Volume XVI, Number 2, Fall/Winter 2015-2016 entitled, “Silver Star, Silver Sand.” I wrote the poem about my father-in-law Kenneth A. McKethan, Sr., of Fayetteville, after he died. We went through his last days with him both painfully and gracefully.
Sometimes it is more difficult to write a poem about someone you know, but in this case, such intense visual images came to me as I thought of his last days, one day I just had to turn to poetry to frame the time.
Here it is, as it appears in Iodine Journal, editor of which is Jonathan Kevin Rice. It is an honor to have this appear alongside many fine poems. The journal is available for purchase from them.
SILVER STAR, SILVER SAND
At the last, he opened up like the famous night flower,
gave a glimpse of the bigness that lived inside him.
In his final days, he spoke sentiments we never knew he held.
Locked in tight, now loosened, he tied knots of relationship,
apologized he had been feeling bad,
asked, worried, if he had made my daughter mad.
In the final moments, I told him not to wrest one more tube
from his bleeding arm. He looked at me in full-blown lament,
and asked, Well, why not? At the end when I didn’t come
fast enough, he called for me, and of course, I came.
Stayed all night, followed every order to the letter,
listened to the teacher explain how to tamp down the top
of the ice cream drum, put away the sherbet he had been served
he had no fondness for anyway, even when he could taste,
but now, he couldn’t swallow.
He told us what we all those years had longed to hear:
He loved us. He loved us all, repeated that again and again, thanked
us for all we’d done for him. He told us to turn off the light
over his bed, but to leave the door a-jar. He told us three ladies, waiting,
we could leave his bedside, now; it was time he went to sleep.
Good night, he said, and smiled. He turned away, tucked himself
into the shadows of fading light, the silvery hourglass sands
descending slowly through the night, falling
into morning of the waking day.