Dad, you have left us by Kate Copeland

Niagara, 1857 by Frederic Edwin Church
Image courtesy of the National Gallery of Art

Dad, You Have Left Us 

with this falling desire to find
the most magic breezes,
the best of both worlds, to drive
some mighty drives.
Let us go back to 1986,
when my parents opened shop
then proudly spent the money 
in big cities, on bigger cars,
at biggest waterfalls.
A road trip, and all is grand, all goes 
fast, and y’all say how-ya-folks-doing.
Yellow taxis, subway steams,
rush-hush diners, sneakers’ streams.
We got culturally confused over 
morning coffee with no menu, 
the fries on every sandwich, the toppings 
on every sundae, in every National Park.
No end to the eye, no end to the sights. 
Wonderstruck, we got
and our giant car past traffic lights 
swinging from wires, we got pulled over 
on I-90, by shiny-sunglass-sheriff.
Onwards to Graceland, for the King,
forwards to the Falls, for dear Marilyn. 
Liquid silver river, blue-green falling 
with no fear for borders, 
or for yellow ponchos.
Nature is a thunderous wonder,
nature at its thunderous best.
Feeling like film-living in the mist 
of rainbows, the foredeck pointing at  
caves and hidden myths. 
Dad, you have left us
with this healing desire
to hold on to memories, of cities,
of road trips, the water. You have
shown us your tall way, to fall without fail.
(To my dad, October 1997)

This poem, inspired by Frederic Edwin Church’s 1857 painting Niagara, was first published in The Ekphrastic ReviewOctober 20, 2023 in their Ekphrastic Challenges series. Read about ekphrastic poetry in Niagara.

Kate Copeland

Kate Copeland started absorbing words ever since a little lass. Her love for language led her to teaching; her love for art & water to poetry…please find her pieces at The Ekphrastic Review, First Lit.Review-East, Wildfire Words, The Weekly/Five South, AltPoetry and others. Over the years, she worked at festivals and Breathe-Read-Write-sessions; she is now curator-editor for The Ekphrastic Review and runs linguistic-poetry workshops for the IWWG this year. Kate was born @ harbour city and adores housesitting at the world.

Read Falling Days, also by Kate Copeland

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