Two Poems About My Father by Peter Menkin
by Peter Menkin 1/18/2009 / Poetry
Thursday, August 03, 2006 I wrote this poem after my father's death in 2000. Surprisingly, he was born on Christmas day and so I recall him when this time of year comes along. There are two poems here. The first tells of my visits to him and the last days of his life, though he struggled on to live beyond what I thought the best thing for him. I wanted a peacable death for him, with no special actions by doctors to keep him alive.
I did not prevail in my wishes and was over ruled by my family. He lived on a respirator for some days afterward, and that grieved me for I believed he suffered and was cheated of a quiet and peaceful passing. I am not bitter about this, since it was the overwhelming wish of my family. Nonetheless,
I was saddened and disappointed that they did not agree with what I saw as religious considerations towards a natural death.
The second poem is about his life and talks of his work as a writer for Television and Radio, which he practiced as his profession from the time he was 19 years old. He was a prolific writer with many credits to his resume. I sent this poem to the Writer's Guild, West, and also posted in some years ago on The Atlantic Monthly Writer's Workshop. If you have suggestions or thoughts on either of these poems, please comment.
With you into death itself, to rise an angel star heavenward...(2000)
by Peter Menkin
The struggle began with a tear,a sign of spiritual gift.
Insight and the groaning inwardly as the
body knew before the implacable
crocodile part of the brain began
to take on the autonomic system.
Death was coming, being held back
with ancient gestures, as the Lord
Himself was present. Above the bed
a vision of the presence of an angel,
hiding the remembered as a story.
This entry to paradise, heaven the God,
the ever present and I am was with
awe approached as a cantor would the voice
listen for the very sounds of serene quiet.
The ever singing welcome and adoration of this
gracious position of the frail old man, waiting,
breathing, knowing, struggling, and wanting.
The wanting to be with the light, to turn
towards the goodnesses, the kindnesses,
the welcome of the warmth in the majestic
and the ark of the covenant held mighty in the birth
of the Messiah, King who gave all for an acceptance
into the Church, and the people. Hold up your hands
like magic moments in prayer, the Saints themselves
sang with this man alone with company on the bed.
Not yet ninety and in a quiet peace of dreams so
bountifully remembranced like an old word about
riding behind cars on a set of skates, and being
in the 20s when Mother was alive, and asking for
his wife who is dead, but here. This is entry
of the living waiting for the words to say goodnight,
you were a good man many times. That is good enough.
I was/am your friend. I came to say "I am sorry.
I will miss you."
We sent many to say we forgive you, a prayer
that we confess for you: a Deacon (morally),
a Chaplain (walked nearby), a prayer book (read
with tender genuine call), a Nun (to see if all
is well), a Priest at a distance to be with you, a
discussion with a Reverend Doctor, a Spiritual
taste of the body and blood, incarnation,and the coming of
grief--yours more than ours for you hold
on despite the presence of angels, a comfort.
Surprise there is a hidden Saint watching,
there is the treasure that bids you
come heavenward,called to paradise and rest sublime to rise.
Peter Menkin, an aspiring poet, lives in Mill Valley, CA USA where he writes poetry. He is an Oblate of Immaculate Heart Hermitage, Big Sur, CA and that means he is a Camaldoli Benedictine. He is 64 years of age as of 2010.