Poem for a Father Passing On

Light On Your Way

(For Tyrone Antonio, our dear father, on his passing, December 31, 2011)

It is the early morning hour over here,
in these places you have not seen
but want to come to. Yes, volcanoes

erupt anew, in the chest. They give birth to feelings
and forms of our islands of grief in these
long distances. A lighted lonely candle is for you.

It is Yuletide cinnamon and apple.
it is pine and sweet basil, its faint glow
mixing with our tearing up, our

emotions on a holiday uncertain in these last
moments of the old year. We know this would
come, your passing on like a skilled thief

a drunken trespasser of the coming year,
the dragon with its fire. Last night,
we shopped for the lucky number

we Walmart-ized for the lucky
signs, the yellow color on your
daughter’s wish for you to meet

up when she comes on Valentine’s.
She never said the word we do not say
but last night, we knew but not quite.

Between the promise of your life
and your death, it is seven thousand miles
of liquid water, and our alien tears

now go with the Waipahu waves, and we
send them all to you. We ask
the current’s undertow to bring you

the blessings of our year bidding
goodbye so a new one can come.
We cannot be with you as you

go. We can only be with you
in the intimacy of your father's smile
we remember in family rituals

we come to at your home:
years of Tondo Christmasses,
more years of your cooking

and now all these without you.
Decades of Maria Payo New Years,
and now without your bang!

And the feast of the Santo NiƱo,
like Papa Vincent, brother of yours, leading
us to where laughter can lead us to.

We will miss these now,
short occasions, brief and full, to keep
us going in life, celebrating

what we can, and burying
dreams we cannot pursue.
And now this, your passing on.

We have eternity in the memories,
many and varied, you leave behind.
You go to where rest is defined

in the timelessness of Time.
Please say aloha to our mother
whose death you saw.

I see you going away from
her grave, and in the noontime
hours, your faint smile

unraveled to me your need
for you to be allowed to go.
At this hour, our hearts throb

in anguished pain, our feelings raw.
The hazy mornings are cold,
the days are wintry, and we wrap ourselves

with whatever we can hold on to keep us warm
including our deathless recollection
of you, alive in your booming voice,

silent in seeing how all your children
have come unto their own
with and without you. In your death

leave behind the blessings we have known
leave behind the grace of life
we have yet to know. But, yes, you go!

Waipahu, HI/
December 31, 2011

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