Prayer for My Father

Prayer for My Father

He always loved birds best, filled my childhood
with sky-blue robins’ eggs,
owl pellets spotted on the forest floor,
the softly woven cone of oriole nests.

If he wanted his firstborn to be a boy,
he never showed his disappointment.
He taught me carpentry, built me a treehouse,
played catch with me on languid summer evenings,
cheered me on in school and sports.

I always wanted to be a doctor just like him.
Later, when my life took a lefthand turn,
to Eastern philosophy and holistic health,
he cheered me still.

He always loved birds best.
Now, almost eighty, he is shrunken, sparrow-like,
his thin skin barely veiling
the indigo rivers of his veins,
the frail birdbones of his frame.

Sometimes his mind takes flight,
and when it lights again, he’s querulous, confused,
angry that it’s no longer eagle-sharp.
Each time we part I turn away,
not wanting him to see my tears.

O Heavenly Father, Lord of Life,
take him gently when his time comes,
lead him on his last long flight
to rest at last
in Your Heart’s Nest.

– Begabati Lennihan.

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