Some readers may be caught off-guard by this elegiac love poem with its unconventionally direct thoughts about quality of life issues and family relationships. Had the narrator’s father not died twenty years ago, today would mark his ninety-second birthday. In the posthumous apostrophe to his father, the narrator remembers his storyteller voice, his “air of Old Spice,” and his fondness for lilacs in spring. The timeliness of his death prevented the miseries he and his siblings might have endured with illnesses, clinic and hospital visits, and life-saving interventions. Without specifying the circumstances, the narrator writes that his father died with his “dignity intact.”


For study and discussion this poem should be compared to “Lullaby” by Jon Mukand (see this database).

As an aside, another poem about death of a beloved figure and lilacs in spring, “When Lilacs Last in Dooryards Bloomed,” was written by Walt Whitman, who recalled, posthumously, Abraham Lincoln’s abbreviated lifespan.

Primary Source

Delights & Shadows


Copper Canyon

Place Published

Port Townsend, Wash.