Neutral Tones

by Jamison Koehler on October 8, 2010
U.S. Capitol building

I stand by the bed.  The fingers of your hand
are loose and warm, and though your eyes are closed
your head is toward me.  Are you sleeping, in
the country you have got to?  On pathways
of the blood you have withdrawn, walking younger
with each step.  The scene is in neutral tones,
subdued as it is in dreams, or old albums
where half familiar faces reappear;
houses, lawns, on a street with empty curbs.
To follow you, I turn that page toward child-
hood where your brow is smooth, and the mustache
is darker on your lip.  It disappears:
bow-tie, shirt sleeves, and trouser cuffs rolled up
you pose against the steps, that afternoon
at her house.  In a cap, you go shinnying
poles or hurdle a fence rail, feet sideways,
so easy, young; young father so admired
by someone looking on behind the lens.
If you smiled, in that region beyond sleep,
it would still be for that old camera.

Copyright by Stanley Koehler

In Memoriam:  G. Stanley Koehler, 1915-2010

11 Comments on “Neutral Tones

  1. I am a professor at UMass-Amherst, in the English Department where we would see your father frequently walking the halls en route to his office. I just lost my own father — he was a professor at Columbia U. — and your poem about holding your father’s “loose” and “warm” hand in death was very familiar to me. Thank you.

  2. Go easy, Jamison. If you need anything, you know where to find me.


  3. Let your memories bring you strength. Molim vas primite naše iskreno i duboko sau?eš?e.

  4. Jamison,
    I’m very sorry for your loss. I hope you can sit back and remember all the good times you had together.

  5. Condolences to you and your family on the loss of your father.
    May you find peace in this time of sorrow.

  6. Thank you very much to everyone for the kind words, both here and by email.

  7. I still can’t believe that he’s gone. I see his face. I feel his presence.

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