For C. Winn Canfield

What Remains

I became

Because

Of your foray in a hospital bed

in Culpeper

 

Did you have an inkling

or did you just see the end

 

no eye yet for my tool,

retrospect

that prophetic backward telescope

 

or did you

feel a slight breeze

a hint and a whiff of something off,

the pure smell of dread

 

you could not be there

to do the most important thing

to buck the chins

of your daughters up

way up

 

to not let them ever settle

 

and despite time’s shedding

and life helping out with her fine-toothed comb

removing all traces of you

 

your end

ensured

 

what remains

a granddaughter you never met

mourning your death fifty-two years hence

wishing she could change

that hospital day

 

a change that would surely

have blotted out her existence

11 thoughts on “For C. Winn Canfield

  1. Anne – I am so struck by the breadth of your writing range – personal essays, fiction, poetry, and you do them all so well! Heartbreaking and beautiful piece. So many favorite powerful images in this, but especially love “prophetic backward telescope” and “pure smell of dread” and “life helping you out with her fine-toothed comb.” More, more, more!!

    • Thanks, Alexandra. This is about my grandfather who died long before I was born. He was my grandmother’s one true love and they led a very charmed life, until he died of cancer at the age of 50, not too long after they moved to Virginia. And I have found out a lot more about him just recently, and it has been very sad to think of the impact he would have surely had had he not died so young.

  2. Well told. We are so very much shaped by the past, both the tangible and intangible. This fact comes across very strongly in your poem. A bit of your grandfather perpetuates because of this poem. He is glad to be so longingly thought of, I’m sure. Continued success in your writing, Anne Katherine.

    • Thanks so much for reading.
      I wish I had been more in touch with my past when I was younger, but so it goes, as Vonnegut would say. And I suppose everyone feels the same way especially as they grow older.

  3. “a change that would surely have blotted out her existence” … Oh my gosh, you gave me crazy chills with the ending! If he had been there to do his job, your mom wouldn’t have chosen your dad and you wouldn’t have been born. I know you are still struggling through a lot of surprises about your parents’ marriage.

    This is so true about all dads; they have such important jobs (which most of them don’t do) … to shape, to lead, to buck up those little-girl chins, to give self-worth, to ensure the cycles do not perpetuate. Yet most dads don’t do their jobs, and most circles keep spinning. So most women are broken.

    But I’m so glad you were born. πŸ™‚

    I really like “no eye yet for my tool” … I picture an enlarged sewing needle, you incapable of looking through the hole yet … maybe the hole grows over time as you smack your forehead against a brick wall seeing what gradually becomes clearer.

    This is my very favorite part:
    “you could not be there
    to do the most important thing
    to buck the chins
    of your daughters up
    way up”

    • Thanks so much for reading, Shawna.
      So true about fathers. Their worth is so underestimated by many. And they have so much power which a lot of them just seem to relinquish…to the detriment of society, really, and to the individuals who are cheated out of having a good dad. And as you said, those cycles are just perpetuated, sadly.
      And your thoughts about “my tool” — that is why you are the great poet that I am not πŸ™‚ Love the way your brain thinks!

  4. Anne Katherine that is so beautiful!!! Wow do you ever have a way with words…I agree with Alexandra you have a phenomenal range! I always enjoy what you write…keep er commin’!

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