a small moonlit story
your first memory of brown coveralls
(Carhartt, Dickies, Walls, pick your favorite brand)
was the pair your daddy wore
on an icy night
when the two of you walked downhill,
boots finding traction on gravel beneath snow
up to the bend in the road
-where he built the hay shed in a warmer month-
the starting point.
you don’t yet know the first thing about snow
but he does.
he knows the right night to bring out the runner sled
how to guide it along the curve of the pavement
with no fear of flipping or tipping.
all you have to do is lie on his back and
out of your control
snow and ice splattering into your face
air (you’ve forgotten how to breathe) forcing itself into your nose
a frozen moment in time
-rest in motion-
then, too soon
the easing to a stop
(slightly anti-climactic – no grand finale here)
standing to shake snow out of all the wrong places
almost ready for the long walk back
to woodstove heat and marshmallowed cocoa
or maybe… just one more ride.
twenty, twenty-five, thirty years later
his voice over the phone line and two hundred miles away-
“If you were here I’d take you on a sled ride.”
and it’s all right there on the tips of your senses: all of it.
the crunch-glide of metal on ice
lonely-dark night turned to memory of home
and maybe he never even wore coveralls
maybe it was just his old tan overcoat
(the one with the woven-textured buttons that you salvaged)
maybe you got the details all wrong.
the memory is still valid.
For years I’ve wondered how to put onto paper this memory of my father from my childhood. Maybe it was the overabundance of snow this winter that finally made the words fit together. Snow begets memories of snow – or at least more detailed ones.
And then one snowy evening he called me (or I called them, I don’t remember which) and he made that long-distance offer, “If you were here I’d take you on a sled ride.” He didn’t know he was handing me the final bookend for this little work-in-progress.
Happy father’s day, Dad! I love you!