Thursday, June 01, 2006

Just Before My Father’s Last Flight Home from Atlanta

I will buy you a basket of cellophane wrapped strawberries

shipped in from Salinas,

two for four dollars on special.

You ate the entire last carton in a day or so,

the one your grandson brought after supper not even dark when you were already sleeping,

dreaming about Palo Alto and the red trumpet vines wrapped around brown shingles.

You children were born there, you told me this morning when

we took you out for bagels and nova lox deli, and a view of

young girls paying their own checks.

No, I said, we moved when I was ten, from DC, where we lived in an ugly brick tract house in Bethesda, out by the beltway now.

But then there were still fields and wild apple trees.

From my new place in Oakland, you insisted, I will be able to see the shoreline park, the ducks and the sea gulls pecking at the garbage.

No, I said, you will only see as far as just south of San Francisco,

straight across the bay you want to think is the Pacific.

There never was any ocean here,

and the fruit came in by rail.

Marti Keller
©May 28, 2006