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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Bob and Doris

Bob and Doris

I cut Dad’s hair today.
He coached me.
This is still new for him-
needing help.

He was Special Ops during the War.
Solved the rape and murder
of a French woman. The guilty U.S.
soldiers shamed their uniforms.
Dad damn near killed a drunk in his own squad
whose stupidity nearly doomed them all,
but cooler heads prevailed, stopped the fight.
The war over, his fluent German meant
a year in an enemy town.
Billeted in a castle,
he helped them rebuild
and rid themselves of Nazis.

Mom didn’t know him when he rang
her doorbell two years after he shipped out.
She held her toddler, Robert Jr.,
and said “Yes, can I help you?”
when she opened the door.
Dad was heavier, older, weary-
not the smooth-cheeked,
scrawny tennis player she’d married.
That young man died in Europe.
They had three more babies.
Two jobs for Dad. Weekends
he wore a gun again.
Patrolled NYC docks for Jimmy Sullivan
who moved him from dock to lonely dock when Dad
caught thieves. Dangerous nights in the oily salt air lasted through the decade shocked by death.

A gentle Dad let
me trim his wispy hair today.
Released from my ministrations,
leaning on two metal canes,
he headed for my Mom,
who was in bed,
as she always is now.
Dad grinned like a boy-
all spruced-up.
Sparkling blue eyes said “look at me.”
Weak brown eyes saw her handsome husband,
and with a smile as fresh as twenty,
she said “You look fine.”
And I sat down to write a poem.

Nonnie Augustine October 23, 2005

Mom died on May 5, 2006
Dad died on March 3, 2010

4 comments:

Bill West said...

Very moving, Nonnie.
You complete the circle in this poem.

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Karen said...

Beautifully written - I've just discovered your blog through mom, so glad I did. - Cousin Karen in CT

E said...

Yes, very moving. Your Dad sounded like a person of integrity.

I like how the poem captures his whole adult life as it does the span of your parent's marriage. Life is constant growth and change. Your poem reflects this.

Elizabeth