My Papa’s Eyes
by David Fraser
I see my papa’s eyes weighted with two round stones, smoothed by river water. My mother’s tears drip upon my neck. I reach across a crude, rough-hewn wooden box, a kind of boat to me, lined with my mother’s shawl. With me, I see my mother, my little sister, and my brother barely born scratching at the soil for years to pay the priest. My mother’s friends keen through coarse scarves and fists of scars held close to their mouths. Their tears flood over me, flow into my father’s box; fill in around his Sunday clothes. My tears join the steady flow of grief as the water of our lives seeps into the neat round bullet holes in the cloth and in his skin.
I see the pamphlets poking from my father’s pocket. He printed them himself, met silently at night with men whose furtive looks and weary eyes told me that even grown-up men have fears. From my quiet corner of the house, I listened to their whispering and watched their fists rattling the air. I heard the words of freedom, equality and peace, those floating images, so hard to touch. My heart, too, was knotted then; my teeth were clenched.
The wails of weeping women bring me back… my father’s blood leaking into sand the day the soldiers’ bullets planted deep-red flowers in his chest… back from places of the past; and hungry, violent moments yet to be. Their tears overflow my papa’s coffin and fall as if from high mountains on to the earthen floor, trod thick and firm by centuries of feet. These waters fill the room, and we are all forced to swim like fish and gulp the sadness in, wishing we were brightly coloured birds.
David Fraser lives in Nanoose Bay, on Vancouver Island. He is the founder and editor of Ascent Aspirations Magazine, since 1997. His poetry and short fiction have appeared in over 50 journals and anthologies. He has published a collection of his poetry, Going to the Well (2004), a collection of short fiction, The Dark Side of the Billboard (2006) and edited and published the five print issues of Ascent Aspirations Magazine. A second collection of poetry, Running Down the Wind appeared in 2007 David is currently the Federation of BC Writers Regional Director for The Islands Region. His latest passion is developing Nanaimo’s newest spoken-word series, WordStorm, www.wordstorm.ca. Contact David.
Ascent Aspirations Publishing
Member of the Federation of BC Writers
Member of WAVE Publications Cooperative
Member of the Canadian Poetry Association
Member of the Canadian Federation of Poets