Dear Dad

This is an old poem and not written to a prompt. I decided to post it here today after writing a bit of the story about it on another blog.

Dear Dad

Fragile black tree shadows
stretch across old country
blacktop, unevenly marking
the distance of time and place.

Filtered sunshine runs lightly
over windshield, playing
touch-soft rhythms on
my face as Lee Greenwood sings,

It might have appeared
to go unnoticed…

I was eight first time
you took me fishing.
Told me I must
bait my own hook.
I did.
Told me that I must
take care of my own equipment.
I did.
Told me I must clean
whatever I caught.
Was relieved when
I didn’t.
But, you told me I must
clean one of yours,
so I’d know how when
I did.

but I’ve got it all
here in my heart.

Trucking through the muck,
in search of a trout stream
you were so sure was only
a little further,
I walked out of my boots.
To make up for oozing mud
you let me drive the Jeep.
Terribly short at age twelve,
I couldn’t get the clutch
all the way down without
using steering wheel
for leverage. So you shifted
gears and never said a word
when I gouged a new driveway
between those two evergreens
in front of Uncle John’s cabin.

I want you to know
I know the truth…

By fifteen I was confident,
out of the car, gear ready,
my line in the water,
while you prepared bait and tackle
for Mom. Putting her to my left side,
younger sister Mary on my right,
then slipped far away, quietly whistling.
You missed all the excitement
when Mary, expecting a perch,
pulled in small-mouthed bass,
swinging around to show us,
landing it smack in my face.
Of course you knew
that neither of them
took fish off a hook,
but I did.

I would be nothing
without you…

Sleepy-eyed seventeen,
I had to be awakened
at least three times.
You said you’d leave without me
if I didn’t get up
at the first call,
I didn’t,
and you did.

Did you ever know
that your’re my hero…

At nineteen, cocky and rebellious,
I challenged you to a game of pool
on our way home in that awful blue Plymouth
with the fishtail fins.
Took several beers and three games
to show you that I could win.
Back on divided highway,
I said I thought the old blue goose
would probably wallow and die
if you ever got her up past sixty.
Then sat back in amazed exhilaration
when needle rose toward ninety.
We both laughed uproariously
when you took your foot off the pedal
saying we’d have to coast
back to town because you’d
wasted so much gas.
I think we were both a bit surprised
when the blue goose did.

and everything
like to be?

The silent questioning humor
you shot at me over my new
husband’s shoulder as he
excitedly told you of buying
new rods and reels, taking
me fishing, baiting my hook,
and removing the catch.
I didn’t carry that one off too well,
breaking into gales of laughter
when you tried to make me
feel guilty.
I didn’t.

Well I can fly higher
than an eagle…

You were with me
when I caught my first perch,
then my first bluegill,
bass, trout, and even
a bullhead or two.
But the best was just a few
months ago, when at age forty,
I caught my first Northern.
You came, sick,
nauseated from chemotherapy,
you came anyway
to our rented cottage,
sitting on the dock
in a lawn chair.
You told me I must go
and catch that big one.
I did, Dad.

Cause you are the wind
beneath my wings.

Elizabeth Crawford  6/10/14

Notes: This was written well over thirty years ago, a few months before my father died of pancreatic cancer. I sent it to him and would visit with him every other weekend. He loved the fact that I could sing almost any song I heard a few times and this song was my favorite from the first moment I heard it because it made me think of him. I thought the poem lost, but found it a few days ago amidst all the files I have been sorting through. The story about that may be found here:

Notes: Words in italics are the final verse and chorus of Wind Beneath My Wings
by Lee Greenwood 1983 and may be heard in its entirety here:

About 1sojournal

Loves words and language. Dances on paper to her own inner music. Loves to share and keeps several blogs to facilitate that. They can be found here:
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13 Responses to Dear Dad

  1. Oh Elizabeth, my dear friend. How beautiful this is. You were lucky to have such a wonderful father. And such rich memories. Loved this.


  2. Mary says:

    Elizabeth, this is a wonderful poem. I love your fishing memories and all the other memories shared of time with your father. I also remember my dad and uncle taking me fishing in a row boat with a small motor somewhere up by Green Bay. I never had to put worms on the line though, nor remove fish if I caught them. I smiled also when you mentioned the blue Plymouth. We had a 1952 blue Plymouth for a while. I can picture it still.

    If you have time, take a look at the poem I wrote today about my dad. He was on MY mind today too.


  3. Your poem tells it all, how it was, and I love it. That song is special, too, and so appropriate to be included with your words.


  4. Pamela says:

    Wow! Really, Elizabeth, a big WOW! That is very honest writing,

    Pamela ox


  5. A father like that sounds so wonderful.. The coming of age and that he made you self-confident to do your own catch.. Hope you will have more years together and that he recover…


  6. Mary says:

    Elizabeth, I enjoyed reading this poem again today for Father’s Day. I’ve taken a few walks with my grandchildren recently in parks where men are fishing. Always brings back a few memories, though I still don’t think I would put on a worm or touch a fish I caught. YOU were brave to take those fish off the hook. LOL. On this reading I was struck by the ending…very poignant. I understand the significance of “Wind Beneath My Wings.” I shared another dad poem today, in recognition of Father’s Day:


  7. brian miller says:

    really it is a wonderful tribute to your father….all the little moments that add up to your being able to live…and follow on his way….i like how you blended in the song….


  8. annell4 says:

    I loved the story you wrote in this one about your Father, and remember the song, it seems so long ago….. only yesterday.


  9. Arushi Ahuja says:

    beautiful and strong!! 🙂


  10. I loved your poem. Very beautiful, having a father there with you from your childhood to your adult years. And the song is nice, though I always thought Bette Midler sings it. Nice!


  11. Stormcat says:

    I guess for those of us for whom fishing with dad seemed to be what it was all about; in the end figure out that fishing is not what it was about at all . . . . . but fishing reminds us of it.


  12. Sumana Roy says:

    a wonderful tribute to your dad Elizabeth….one feels blessed to have such loving memories of dad…inclusion of that song makes it so rich….


  13. hypercryptical says:

    Beautiful – how wonderful to have such rich memories of your father, your guide.
    Anna ;o]


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