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Losing My Father
Sally Buckner

“I’m sad to hear,” my friend writes
“that you have lost your father.” 
She continues, proffering sympathy
like the casseroles that fill my refrigerator.
I read her well-meant words, fold
the note with unnecessary care, drop it
into the stack on the silver tray.
I have lost my father?
How careless of me! Where
on this suddenly askew earth could I
have mislaid him? Perhaps if I check
the premises once more, peer through
the clumps of dust-bunnies congregated
under various beds, shuffle clothes
in the crammed closets, lift
each cushion of the overstuffed sofa, perhaps,
perhaps I’ll discover him, plaid shirt rumpled,
but the lopsided grin the same, the balding head
gleaming as if waxed, the gold-brown
eyes still bearing their ember glow.
How could I lose my father? I admit
I’m careless, have to search
on an almost predictable schedule
for car keys, datebook. I misfile
checks, prescriptions, business letters. Bills
come up missing every month, only
to appear once I go through the scatter of papers
blanketing my desk. Family recipes vanish
like cards in the palms of magicians.
But lose my father? The things I lose
I have held in my careless hands, my forgetful
fingers. I held my father—I hold my father
close, close in my heart.
© by Sally Buckner.
Used with the author’s permission.

Sally Buckner (1931 - 2018) was a life-long North Carolinian who published fiction, reviews, essays, plays, and two poetry collections, Strawberry Harvest and Collateral Damage. She also edited two anthologies: Our Words, Our Ways: Reading and Writing in North Carolina, and Word and Witness: 100 Years of North Carolina Poetry. Having taught at every level from kindergarten through graduate school, Sally devoted her retirement years to writing, family, and social justice. Her work supporting North Carolina's literary community—sponsoring a high school poetry contest, compiling two anthologies of North Carolina writing, and working on projects devoted to the state's writers and their writing— earned her numerous awards.


Post New Comment:
Perfect poem! Brilliant!
Posted 06/24/2013 10:57 AM
What was forgotten was to say Thank you for writing the poem. It says it so well.
Posted 06/11/2013 12:23 PM
I understand the poem differently. You didn't lose your father. Your father died. But people are reluctant to say that and it's understandable. But from my own experience, I prefer the straight on approach without couching it.
Posted 06/11/2013 12:06 PM
I believe in perfect poems. This is one of them.
Posted 06/11/2013 10:35 AM
My kind of poem. Love it.
Posted 06/11/2013 09:40 AM
Very helpful way, Sally, to address the language of loss.
Posted 06/11/2013 09:34 AM
I love this!! Thank you.
Posted 06/11/2013 09:14 AM
Janet Leahy:
A "scatter of papers" also blankets my desk, your choice of words is exquisite, I too, have lost my father or so the notes said.
Posted 06/11/2013 08:45 AM
This poem speaks to all of us who have experienced loss...beautiful poem.
Posted 06/11/2013 08:00 AM
Larry Schug:
Father poems always get to me, especially good ones like this. Thank you, Sally.
Posted 06/11/2013 07:35 AM
This is thought-provoking, Sally. Thank you. (You don't look a bit like Lady Bracknell)
Posted 06/11/2013 07:10 AM
The love shines through on almost every line. Wonderfully muted and nuanced. We got to know the father and the house, with its stuffed closets, pretty well too.
Posted 06/11/2013 05:46 AM
Posted 06/11/2013 05:24 AM

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