For the Sake of the Poem                                   

 homage to Linda Paston

I visit my mother’s childhood
She was 11 when he died
one of five children crying
for their father
one of five siblings left
with a grieving mother.
      They never spoke
      of how their father died.

For the sake of the poem
I search the county records.
He died long before I was born.
A woman helps me find the obituary
she reads it
and makes a copy.
      Did you know this she asks
      Did you know how he died?

For the sake of the poem
I sit at a wood table
and read the story of his death.
The details are all here,
everyone in his rural community
would have known,
      he took his own life
      his son found him in the barn.
For the sake of the poem
I travel to the country cemetery,
kneel to plant flowers at his grave.
Digging deep into the soil
of family secrets
I write this poem
      for the sake
      of my mother.  

—Janet Leahy, New Berlin, WI