Every Memorial Day, I think of my dad, a veteran. I don’t have a photo of him in his army uniform. I wish I did. This is my only picture of the two of us. Yep, I’m holding a book. Years ago, I wrote this poem after he visited my dreams. Hope you like it.
Chasing the Sandman
In Memory of James B. Elliott (1936-1979)
Even here, caught on the hem of my dream, I know you. A bald head cleanly shaven, a long face lined from laughter, and a pack of Raleighs claim your shirt pocket. You have my eyes. I borrowed your lopsided smile.
For a while, you raced me barefooted from the corner of the garage to the clothesline pole, greased the runners of my hand-me-down sled, and scavenged for night crawlers by the glimmer of the flashlight’s beam.
Your skill for casting a line and corralling lightening bugs in Welch’s jelly jars became my own. We skipped flat-sided rocks across Beaver Creek and shot pop cans off the bridge with your four-ten shotgun.
With my hand on my heart, I watched you march down Main Street at the Memorial Day parade. With my heart in my hand, rifles split the stillness of the brisk March air at the Pleasant Hill Cemetery north of town.
Visit me more often in the dark part of the night. It’s when I see you most clearly. Remember to tell me good-bye. I’m ready to listen.