My Father’s Birthday today.

Kohut-Bartels-LS-3

(Marsh Geese, Watercolor, 2000, Jane Kohut-Bartels)

 

My father, Albert Kohut, was born in 1915 in New Brunswick, New Jersey.  He died too young at 75 in 1989.  Though it is decades ago, I miss him desperately.  My father was my champion, and though I might have doubted it growing up, his love to his first child and only daughter was deep and abiding.  I wish marriage and distance hadn’t gotten in the way of seeing him more, but it did.  Perhaps this is the way of things today.

Daddy didn’t live to see my books or read my poetry but I know he would have been proud.  He  barely lived to see me begin to paint, but any talent of that comes from him.’

He was a patient and quiet man, an extremely talented man in so many issues.  He was beloved by so many people and one particular rabbit.

Happy Birthday, Daddy.  Had you lived, you would have been 101 today.

Your daughter, Jane-Elizabeth.

I Remember….

 

I remember the scream

In the middle of the night

Of something dying

Down by the river,

Killed by an owl

Or possibly a fox.

 

I remember bolting awake

In my parent’s bed,

My heart in my throat

My father just died

The funeral over

Sleeping in

His bed,

Afraid to move from this reality

To the next,

No comfort to be had

Even with the scent of

His tobacco in the sheets.

 

I wandered the house,

Touched the walls,

Looked through windows

To a landscape not

Changed over years,

Ran my hands down the

Black walnut banister,

Smooth, smooth

As if the days would turn back

Just by this touch

And he would be here.

 

That scream somewhere on the banks

In the middle of the night,

When I jerked from sleep to

Awake, knowing, he was dead-

The father who loved me

Was gone forever.

I knew then

I was unmoored from life

floating out of reach of love.

 

A scream that challenged dreams

He would come back,

He wasn’t awaiting the fire

He would wake up,

Much as I did,

In a cold-sweat fear

And slowly, slowly

resume his place in the living.

 

There are unseen things

That happen in the night,

Down on the river bank,

Where life is challenged by death

Where a rabbit screams his mighty last

Where the heart leaps to the throat,

Where the most we can hope

Is a silent ghost

Who walks out of the river’s fog,

Extends his arms

And embraces the sorrowing.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 Responses to “My Father’s Birthday today.”

  1. Fred Says:

    The first time I met Al he said ” c’mon lets get out of here”. We went to the marina where he kept his sailboat moored. We never got the motor started and ended up drinking a couple of beers and had a great time. The short time we spent together was certainly better than “listening to the hens cluck”. I do know he made an excellent daughter and was extremely proud.

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  2. ladynyo Says:

    Ahhh,, thank you darling. Having others who knew him, and loved him, telling me their impressions of him fills a gap in my life. He approved of you, I know that, because he said so. I also remember you asking him for my hand. I remember him saying: “Yes, you can have her hand and the rest of her, too.” Although you only had 5 short years knowing him, I am so glad you did. You are both, you know….very alike.

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  3. Sherry Marr Says:

    Oh my goodness, this poem got to me….especially the ghost walking out of the river’s fog to embrace the sorrowing. That scream in the middle of the night……..fantastic writing! You are so fortunate to have had a father like him. Loved this poem.

    Like

  4. ladynyo Says:

    Ah, Sherry! Thank you so much. That poem came in a rush. I woke one morning a few years ago, the poem already in my mouth. You know how that happens.
    My relationship with my father was blocked by the jealousy of my mother. She was jealous of any woman in the room. But if my father was around, it was worse. LOL! I was his first child and only daughter. It took me a longggg time to understand my father: he was quiet, not given to any outbursts, the opposite of my mother. He died too young, at 74 and I too married and far away. Yes, he was the parent I now know was unconditional in his love. I am trying to mirror him in my own relationships with my son. Sometimes, it isn’t easy. What helps….and this is the true blessing….is that my husband of 32 years is exactly like him….in talent, in personality, and compassion. They only met a few times in the 5 years before he died, but I could see that they liked each other very much. I have a cousin, Donnie….that is also exactly like my father, the son of one of his brothers. When I call Donnie (which I do frequently) it’s like I am talking to my long dead father. It’s a comfort.

    Thank you, dear friend, and excellent poet! I deeply appreciate your reading and loving comment.
    Jane

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