The blurbs on the back of the travel book
In the free bin outside the secondhand store
Made the book sound affable. The man
Took it home with him as a possible pal.
The volume was by a male. Happy to sit
In his favorite chair by the gooseneck lamp
On the little round table where he kept
Scratch paper and pencils and ball-point pens
To take notes if he wished as he read,
The now-owner regarded its title page, approved
Who published the book, liked its intriguing title:
Lost Continent. Before he reached Acknowledgements
And Part One he came across a simple dedication:
“To my father.” The man liked its directness:
He who had loved his father approved this sign
Of wholesome sentiment. He started now to ease into
The book. Yes, it was truly affable; at times, laughable;
Yet serious withal. Its sub-title “Travels In
Small Town America” appealed. The Iowa section
With its description of women with beehive hairdos
And butterfly glasses brought mental chortles. The man
Settled into his armchair for the start of what he hoped
Would be a visit which would take several nights or a week
To finish. Its well-written pages held his interest.
He liked meeting the author -- until on page twenty-five he read
“When you have reached the middle of your life
And your father has recently died.” How could this be?
To dedicate a book “to my father” not “to the memory
Of my father” when the man is no longer alive? Surely the publisher
Could substitute one for the other if required?
So the father never got to read the fond, wistful, disappointed, sad,
Delightfully nostalgic words of the author son! The man
Put the book face-down on the little round table. The man was in his eighties
With several old male friends who had never spoken, or not spoken well,
Of a father. He could, and often had. Disquieted, he recalled being taken
At the age of eleven to a Dairy Queen for a chocolate-dipped cone by his.