Old mom sent me a card for Father’s Day
She never does that, how nice!
Telling me she’s proud of me
How good of a dad I am,
She used to write so beautifully
In a lovely looping cursive script
That ought to be its own font.
You could wear her written words
As jewelry or decorate your kitchen curtains
With complex repeating patterns
Of her Dear Jeffs and Love Moms.
She’s older now and her hand shakes a bit
And that elegant penmanship
Yaws with a tremored wobble
Like a dodgy arterial line tracing.
It makes me sad, how all beauty
Eventually begins to tremble,
Dampening down to asystole.
I still have the book she gave
Me for Christmas when I was sixteen—
Shakespeare’s Complete Works,
The inside cover filled with an inscription
She had carefully written
In her humble but confident calligraphy,
Hidden like a secret medieval codex,
Telling me the best was yet to come.
I used to think her writing
Was the prettiest thing about her.
I should have paid more attention, I guess.
I’m sure there were other ways she was beautiful
So many ways I must have missed.
Life is full of illusions.
I’m always getting disabused
Of this notion or that.
Even words lose elasticity
Flatten out into rigid meanings
Or oscillate into wavy split ends
Plucked and flicked out a window
I have always exclusively printed
In a sharp angular chicken scratch,
Slashing into the paper
With a sequence of hashes and dashes,
As if I were writing with numbers—
Fast and mechanical and perfectly clear.
Above all I wanted to be understood
Aesthetics be damned.
But who cares what I ever meant.
I don’t even understand it anymore myself.
Just look at Mom’s gorgeous capital L’s and J’s.
Those lowercase f’s and g’s
The perfect vowels of uniform height
The mathematically precise spacing;
I get it now.
I thanked her for the card
And asked her to try to write
Me more often, anytime she’s bored,
Even when the letters start vibrating
With such turbulence they begin to unwind,
Slackening as a sine wave function
Of progressively dwindling amplitude,
Not even letters anymore
But crafted all the same,
Losing energy with the passage of time
Eventually collapsing into a straight line
That runs off the page
And out the door and down the road
Finding me wherever I am
And then it will be up to me
To make it curve again
For I still believe
Our best is yet to come
Even when she isn’t there to see
This is beautiful.
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