Man of trust, of past, feel of love
how can you mix with this bed of death?
Our touch, our hold, it has an end,
Oh, please, to my palm a miracle lend!
Strong hand, marked by life's creativity
Tear on nose, on cheek, in ear
When gone how can I grasp the know
Of these, your unique fingerprints.
Tear drop, a two-edged shower to feel
Oft at night alone in fear
Or giving birth to that held near
I yearn to share, your tale to hear
Father, what was life that you, at it's end
Find such pleasure in the little things
Of heart and soul, shared eye, shared smile?
Wondering, I ponder with puckered brow
I hold your hand, passing hours
Where do you go? How can I give ease, take pain?
I walk with helpless panic till I see
In helping not I give the most, in your close company
The tumbler's make is but simple stuff
Which banker, thief turn to bread
But it never under force unbinds
Its hidden securities.
So my Father's life unwinds
To deeply moving simple tasks
All life's complex pretense betrayed as feints
by this man's gaze, smile, grip, fears, tears.
-- In Memory of Charles Seward Palmerlee
Written 3/10/90 by John Palmerlee and read to Charles in his hospital room. He kept it by his bed throughout his last month here.