Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Visitor - March 23, 2010

My father, for example,

who was young once

and blue-eyed,


on the darkest of nights

to the porch and knocks

wildly at the door...

Finally there came the night

when I rose out of my sheets

and stumbled down he hall.

The door fell open

and I know I was saved

and could bear him...

And I greeted him and asked him

into the house,

and lit the lamp,

and looked into his blank eyes

in which at last

I saw what a child must love,

I saw what love might have done

had we loved in time.

A young Mary wakes in the night and goes to stare at her father, perhaps passed out on the sofa. If she feels safe enough or if grace visits her night, she might love her father and know in the center of her being that her love is enough, even if his isn't. In her loving she is saved, and in her saving, perhaps there will come a night when she can open to her fears, to her wounds, to her disappointment, and bear the world upon her worn shoulders, love reborn.

Just yesterday morning at 5:30 a.m. a young man that we took in from Honduras came knocking at our door. He had lived with us for two years, called us ma and pa, and we had managed to bear one another until we asked him to move out due to his issues with drugs and breaking laws and home covenants. I had not seen him for a year, and there he was. We invited him in, poured him a cup of coffee, and was reminded how easy he was to love, even if his actions could not be born. He reminded how in the midst of my disappointment and hurt, how easy it is to love.

Who in your past might come knocking at your door and how will you greet the reminder of what might have happened if love could have found a way?


  1. I hope your meeting went well. The time he chose is curious.

    I fully expect to see my ex knocking on my door and have played over in my mind whether I would invite him in. I have talked with him on the phone and know he is a "lonely old man". He called a bit ago and said he would be going through and did I want to have lunch. I said, "No". First of all, it was another lie. It was a planned trip out of his way. And, the terrible things he did to me and the children, the horrible lies he told judges, and the financial difficulties he created all came flooding back. I have no desire to see him.

    Later he called the girls. My son was not called because he purposely uses only his cell phone and doesn't have a land line where his father could find him. None of the children want a relationship with him. They remember the nights during forced visitation that they had to barracade themselves together in a bedroom with furniture holding the door for safety.

    He told both girls that he had driven past my house. It looked small, on a dirt road, and the neighborhood didn't seem to good. He wondered if I needed money. One said that that was none of his business and hung up. The other just hung up. Both reacted the same. How could he offer money when we struggled without child support? He has his house in Canada, his one in Illinois, and now his Florida house. I reminded them that any money he spent was for control. He would love to have me poor and needy so he could step in and control me. That won't happen. My retirement money is very adequate. My house happens to be 100 sq. ft. larger than the one I raised the children in. He probably saw my black friend who lives at the end of the street shooting baskets. My ex is very predjudice. He grew up in a suburb of Detroit which would not permit any black person to rent of own a home in the town until the 1980's.

    If love could have found a way. I hoped initially that he could have a relationship with the children. If he had done things like take them to Disney World or camping, or anything where they could have had fun, it might have worked. But he saw his role as a parent as he needed to make unrealistic rules he knew they didn't have the maturity to follow, so then he could punish them. He also expected them to wait on him and cook meals for him which they saw as work at ages four eight and ten. If love could have found a way, he might have known his grandsons. He has never seen them and my daughter doesn't want her boys to know anything about that grandfather or what her life was like with him. She wants to leave that chapter closed.

  2. T said:

    That's what's wonderful about poetry - it is everything to everyone, and so often those things are different! This is one of my favorite MO poems. To me, this is not the young Mary, but present day, dealing with her dead father. It's a very powerful poem, however you read it.

    And you both have had spectres from the past hammering on your doors, figuratively and literally. Some things, it seems, one has to confront over and over again, in a spiral. Each time one comes out of it in a slightly different place. You both provide such depths for me to ponder!

  3. Dear T,

    I do see now the father as death coming to the door. How often is it only after death that we know the power of love? Perhaps only because of death as in today's poem?

    Good day,


  4. From T: Parental stuff is SO SO difficult, I think for some of us it will only detoxify after death provides sufficient separation. And THEN you can feel the love. Which is another way of saying I'm a big coward, and very much admire those who can work out issues with their parents during their lifetimes. ('Course, it takes two...). PS: I also love the winding cloth imagery..she is very jesus like when she rises "out of [her] sheets" and also the way "the door fell open" for some reason reminds me of the stone at the tomb...anyhow, it feels really resurrectional to me. love it. T