One For My Father

April 1, 2014 in Eulogies, Fathers, Mario Smiraldo

This is one I wrote shortly after my father’s death in late February. For those of us who have survived a difficult upbringing, the truth is often a complex and layered thing.

Second Course:
Il Primo

Ashes to olive oil
balsamic to base

the body of my father
is where it belongs
in a bottle
of dust intent
in a vessel that
means nothing
among the recipes
of Spirit.

He who cannot be
contained
eventually flies
free
and gets his
fervent wish.
Papa,
you were never meant
for earthly
things.

You coddled garlic
in your fingers
like sacraments,
bread crumbs
to the Braciole,
your palms
cupped in meaty
prayer.

You cooked
better
that you cleaned.

You carried
sandwiches
like currency,
you brow beat some
and flirted others
you constructed
a recipe
theology
that needed a
bigger oven
and you left your
art work
like pine nuts behind
in scattered
trails
that lead
to other recipes
but not to
easy answers.

Now in these after
hours,
I discover that
I am not your
sous chef
though often was
your patron.

I ate at your
tables

and it was
hard being
your son

but this Mediterranean
diet
eventually makes
you strong
if you digest well
and choose
oils
that feed us all.

This bottle of ashes
is religion,
this bottle of oil is law
this infusion of both
is vulnerability

three things for which
you had little use
and so I keep
the body there
while the essence
finds the river,
river to the plains
plains returns to
ocean
and ocean
into stars.

I let your recipe book go,
Papa.
I didn’t try for
hero
our become a
student.

I could not pretend
to fix
your meals.

I am building
ink out of tears
and laughter and stars,
oregano and balsamic
and the pages
will be
my body
before it too
turns to dust
and I will be vulnerable,
break the laws
in ways that
could not dance
with your theology.

But please know that
we will all
miss the heaven
in your
meatballs
and marvel at
how pork
could be cooked into
a taste of
the upper planes

and now
that you
you are traveling
someone’s got
to mind the bottles
someone’s got to
add the oil
someone’s got to
stir the
mist.

Ashes to oil
balsamic to dust
the body of
my father
is where it
belongs

the songs of
him
are recipes still.

One For My Father

One Comment

    1. Oliver says:

      I am starting to read more of your work and I am having a great time. Thank you so much!

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One For My Father

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