Saturday, July 19, 2014


My precious father turned 82 today. I am so thankful for him in so many ways, and so thankful for all the ways the Lord has sustained his health in recent years. As he often says, he feels like he is living on gift time!

In honor of the day, I thought I would post a poem I wrote for him two years ago, when he turned 80. It still sings true.

My father turns eighty today.
I know without asking
that he will celebrate
with an angel-food cake
topped with blue icing –
the same cake my mother
has faithfully made
for as many of his birthdays
as I can remember
and beyond.

Blue is my father’s color.
His eyes sparkle with it,
clear and bright, true blue
eyes my mother fell in love
with and still loves.
I picture him in blue,
the pale coarse fabric of
his long-sleeved work shirts,
the lighter, slicker blue of
dress shirts under suit coats.
One of those shirts is always
draped on the ironing board
of my memory, its white
buttons resting hard against
my cheek when we hug.

Blue is my father’s color –
The paint I see spilling
from the tubes next to his palette,
the hue of the musical notes
that flow from Gershwin’s Rhapsody,
the chipped sky blue of seats
at old Parker Field where we
watched minor league games
every endless summer, the slow
spread of July sky where I can
see him now, silhouetted against
the neighbor’s yard, hands cupped
to imitate the coo of mourning doves.

My father turns eighty today.
And I picture my mother
spilling drops of pure color
from a small bottle
into the white cream ocean of frosting,
swirling the spatters with her quick spoon
till they intermingle into a lovely
robin’s egg blue, festive and ready.

And it strikes me anew
that love is never just
the icing on the cake,
but that it decorates our days
in whorls and peaks
of ordinary brilliance.

                        ~EMP 7/19/12


Erin said...

What a wonderful poem! I especially love the last stanza. Hope that it was a beautiful birthday for your dad!

Free Range Anglican said...

Okay, I totally love this poem. I have for years totally loved your dad through your eyes, but this, this, well it takes the cake! :)

I guess, in the same spirit, my dad's color would be red... his hair, his perpetual golf sunburn, the color of our first house, and yes, his favorite cake (red velvet.)

Beth said...

Erin, he seemed to have a wonderful day. Wish I could have spent it with him!

Tara, I love that you have a color you associate with your dad too. I have come to love your dad through your eyes too -- I can't wait to meet him in heaven one day. (What a celebration that will be...think of all the different cakes there will be at the heavenly banquet!)