As part of my evolution as a writer I have submitted a number of pieces to the Sun, a literary magazine out of North Carolina. So far five pieces have been published in the section “Readers Write”. This piece was published in December 2015. It is followed by a poem I wrote in November 2016.
Little glimpses of my father.
A red-and-black Hi-Flier kite with the words PLAYMATES OF THE CLOUDS printed across it cost just ten cents in the 1950s, and my Papa would buy several, anticipating that only one might survive the assembly process. He was terrible at building kites and would order me to put my finger on the knot while he struggled to tie the sticks together. He often ended up tearing the thin paper. He had little patience but plenty of Scotch tape.
Once a kite was completed, he would tie strips of cloth together to make a tail, which kept it from making endless circles in the air. Too long a tail, however, and the kite would crash to the ground.
When it came time for the first flight, I would hold the kite, and Papa would hold the string and run and yell for me to let go. If the kite spun out or faltered, he would yell again, but if it stayed up, he would soberly hand me the stick with the string that formed a thin connection between me and his creation.
One time, when the kite was flying well and my papa was calm, he took out a scrap of paper and a pencil and told me we were going to send a “letter” to the kite. He asked what our message should be. Afraid of making the wrong suggestion, I said nothing. He wrote the command “Fly high” on the paper, then taped it around the string, making a cone shape. The wind pushed the cone up the string toward the kite until it almost faded from view.
The days my papa and I spent together were too few. I remember a fishing trip, and one time he helped me with my homework. And I remember that kite-flying day, when I held the string without speaking. I remember it was hard to hold the kite steady in the strong wind. I remember the message on the thin line. I remember being afraid that the string would break.
My Father’s Pen
mother of pearl patterns
his favorite color
He carried it everywhere for
dipping and filling it from
a reservoir of black ink
hoping to free dreams
trapped in thoughts
I saw him use it to sign
agreeing to teach
at far away high schools
year after year
I heard the pen in summers only
the margins of typed pages
while our cat scratched on the screen door
wanting to get out.
It lives in my desk drawer now with
his class ring
Mother of pearl pen
waiting to be filled