It was my dad’s birthday yesterday. He would have been 72. In between my steady stream of work, I kept a Van Morrison soundtrack on softly in the background. I was Dad’s brown-eyed girl. One of the last times Dad was in San Francisco and feeling well, we went and saw Van Morrison together at the Fox. I can picture my Dad, a wide grin, the widest grin showing his gaps and crowns, as her perched on the edge of the tallboy chair, shaking his left hand like he was playing the drum – singing the lyrics when he knew them. “Smell the sea and feel the sky!” “…everybody feels so determined Not to feel anyone else’s pain.” Dad leans over from time to share a moment. He asked me whether I think Van’s eyes were open behind those dark glasses. I nodded, yes.
When I was sixteen, we were careening down the dark, two-lane road in the big brown truck I later learned to navigate like a pro. Heading to a Friday night high school football game down by the Mississippi in “river rat country,” as my dad affectionately called it. Because us folks further up on the river bottom were not as much rat as we were hayseed. It was fall, crisp, early darkness. A breeze sending cornstalks into the sky. We played this game with the seek button on the radio. Next! He’d push the button and the first person to guess the name AND the song won that round. Mandolin Rain by Bruce Hornsby and the Range! Fortunate Son by Credence Clearwater! Blackbird by The Beatles! Ooh-Child by The Five Stairsteps! And on and on. The more classic rock, the more Mo-Town, the better as far as he was concerned. Maybe he let me win on occasion. He always knew more though, the encyclopedia of records alphabetized behind his own brown eyes.
It’s dark out now. I don’t know if it’s day time or night time. The birds are not singing. No one is singing. What is this darkness, blackness? Maybe death has found me, or I’ve encountered the utterances of loss, destruction and devastation. Maybe it’s a womb.
I reach around and feel nothing, no boundary to it. No shape, no texture.
And I startle forward. I hear the fog horn blow. And I wonder if my dad is coming home.