Rod, the Manitoulin Kid
Now, Rod, that shock of black hair
Like an electric bluff,
Forward as your fellow Welshman’s green fuse,
Upright as an angry Corgi’s,
And your eyes of tender wonder
Like eggshells cracking on a child’s Christmas morning,
And that white T-shirt
With your pack of Camels rolled up in one short-sleeve
WHILE you—my “Dad”, my stepfather,
“Rod”—SOMERSAULTED, trying for a catch,
On the Silver Beach Elementary School field
Of grass shadowed by Evergreens, Bellingham, Washington,
Your slippery-souled Wellington boots high in the air—
What could Grammie or our “Beachcombers” ball-team make
Of one so wild and innocent as you?
You never left that Island, Rod,
Manitoulin in Lake Superior,
“The largest freshwater Island in the world”,
No matter where you roamed.
There you began at age 10
To hunt and fish and trap like a providing Dad—
The father who was gone—
For your kid sister and brother Richard
And your let-me-make-a-table-full-of-pastries mother Ruth….
Those 1930s of Souplines across Canada, too,
Before you joined the Merchant Marine at age 16
To add your oar to the second Great War.
You never left that Island, Rod:
Beat and alien as Ti Jean
With your ’47 Harley across Canada and down to Uncle John’s
In Santa Monica;
Stylish and distinguished as could be
With your black ’52 Mercedes Cabriolet and white ’56 Porsche
356 Speedster convertible in Bellingham, 1965;
With the tastes that you and Betty,
My mother, shared for Pogo and the Hi-Lo’s,
Errol Garner and the Andrews Sisters,
Count Basie and “the Duke”;
With your Leicas, Nikons, and Blaupunkt reel-to-reel,
Rod, ever aspiring, ever noble
In the hopes that you two, we three,
Shared, too, for our new United States,
Embodied in the name chosen for the baby
Stillborn in 1957, Lincoln;
With that will to make with
Love anew, you two tried again
And we had Courtenay and then Kenton.
You never left that Island, Rod.
So you gutted on the driveway
Of our “Little Pink House” on Jolanna Lane
In suburban Sacramento
A roadkill jackrabbit, as Ojibway friends
Of yours might do, its life not gone to waste.
Shocking to Grammie, strange even to Beachcombers,
You were and are great as Nature’s values,
Rod, wild and innocent,
Beloved for giving and tenderness.
August 4, 2022
for Memorial Gathering of Family on Manitoulin now.