I’ve wasted my time this morning, and I’m deeply ashamed.
I went to bed last night thinking about my dad.
About that little river we used to fish — Butte Creek –
near Lake Almanor. Water lulled me to sleep.
In my dream, it was all I could do not to get up
and move around. But when I woke early this morning
I went to the telephone instead. Even though
the river was flowing down there in the valley,
in the meadows, moving through ditch clover.
Fir trees stood on both sides of the meadows. And I was there.
A kid sitting on a timber trestle, looking down.
Watching my dad drink from his cupped hands.
Then he said, “This water’s so good.
I wish I could give my mother some of this water.”
My father still loved her, though she was dead
and he’d been away from her for a long time.
He had to wait some more years
until he could go where she was. But he loved
this country where he found himself. The West.
For thirty years it had him around the heart,
and then it let him go. He went to sleep one night
in a town in northern California
and didn’t wake up. What could be simpler?
I wish my own life, and death, could be so simple.
So that when I woke on a fine morning like this,
after being somewhere I wanted to be all night,
somewhere important, I could move most naturally
and without thinking about it, to my desk.
Say I did that, in the simple way I’ve described.
From bed to desk back to childhood.
From there it’s not so far to the trestle.
And from the trestle I could look down
and see my dad when I needed to see him.
My dad drinking that cold water. My sweet father.
The river, its meadows, and firs, and the trestle.
That. Where I once stood.
I wish I could do that
without having to plead with myself for it.
And feel sick of myself
for getting involved in lesser things.
I know it’s time I changed my life.
This life — the one with its complications
and phone calls — is unbecoming,
and a waste of time.
I want to plunge my hands in clear water. The way
he did. Again and then again.
~ Raymond Carver
Credit where it’s due:
The idea of reading you poems on this website came from the wonderful poetry educator (and dear friend of Firefly) Ronna Bloom.