by D. G. Engebretsen
Dear Father,Second Place Winner
you left us in early autumn
when the summer’s heat was still
pressing down dry and thirsty upon us.
You dropped to the ground
like a pear turned golden,
then softened into brown before it's time.
You fell from the bough
only to return to the grass and the dust
before even the leaves
had a chance to crisp scarlet and die.
For me, autumn was too soon.
Still, in your life’s spring and summer
you plowed, planted, watered, and cultivated.
You probably never realized
just how prolific your harvest was,
how much your sturdy hands have created
the fibers and colors of our lives.
Sometimes your gardening was painful to us,
but you always culled with patience.
You understood that magnificent blooms
do not endure long when their roots
are entangled with weeds.
you have left behind a trail
of seeds to fruit and flower.
You were a craftsman too.
You built swings and carts, and stilts
for our childish pleasure.
We saw you take joy in honest labor.
And it was surely a labor of love
when you worked long hours into the night
building a Hope Chest
for your last unfledged chick.
you released beauty from wood
when you couldn’t release words
from your heart.
You whittled love into each intricate blade
of my Norwegian fan.
Do you know how much I’ve always
you had the sparest of roots
and little nourishment
in your tender years,
but somehow you grew as the
strongest of trees.
You were quiet, sheltering,
and seemed ageless and changeless
as an evergreen.
But we know now that even
the Redwoods can die.
you left us in early autumn…
but I feel it is already winter.
About the Author
“I am a former teacher, retired social worker, mother of an adopted young adult daughter, and a newlywed at age fifty-three. I love to read and enjoy writing. When I was younger I loved dancing, camping, hiking, and bird watching. Being physically handicapped these days, my interests have turned to environmental politics, spirituality, cooking, and spending time with my wonderful husband here in the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains, California. My father, who the poem is about, grew up in a family of itinerant lumber workers and was the youngest of thirteen children and orphaned at age twelve.”