Tinder leaf mosaic spreads itself in the fall of day
across the deck. A few green locust leaves spackle
It is almost autumn after a summer too quickly
lived. The deck once unblemished as my father swept
away the confusion, now crackles under my step.
Before it was an old man’s complaint of disorder
at each juncture leaving nothing behind but bare
wood. I never understood.
This first summer after his departure, there is
no one to clean away the chaos. His only
child, I am not like him.
Low hanging branches tap me as I cross
their path, a comfort. He always trimmed
them short, out of everyone’s way.
His lawn groomed for a major league outfielder,
mine a home to rabbits. No place for perfect ball
I was the daughter he raised, but left a woman.
This autumn I release the guilt of missed perfections
and give myself permission to fail.
I allow nature’s foibles to entertain me, delight me
me with its eccentricities, and paint my days
in luscious amusement.
My father passed away in January at the age of 94. I didn’t realize until we moved him in with us around twelve years ago that he suffered from OCD. I would come home to kitchen draws perfectly arranged with space between each utensil. He was always sweeping the deck. I didn’t realize it. He must have done it every day because all I ever saw was a spotless deck and could never understood why he complained so.
Now that he is gone, I am finding that I tried to be perfect in everything to please him. I wasn’t, neither was my mom. I realize I can now relax and let go of this need to please him. I miss him dearly, but am finding my new way of looking at myself and the world a gift that only death could bring.