Driving Home from the Retirement Party

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video by Joe Gleason
video of Tom Noe's poem, Driving Home from the Retirement Party

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Driving Home from the Retirement Party

My daughter Evelyn is waiting now,
a step inside the kitchen, 6:15,
or standing on the porch—she never leans—
the sagging screen propped open with her foot.
Because I’m late, she may be scratching
at that spot above her ear, the way she does,
or prying fragments from the peeling rail.
She white-washed all those wrinkled chips last fall,
but something in the ancient softness of the wood
has sapped the courage from the paint.
Today she feels her season changing too.

The week her mother died, she moved back home,
to stay a year. She stayed for twenty-four.
She kept the house alone my year in France.
She cleans too hard, and fixes up too much.
The sturdy home that Anne and I designed
we didn’t build of masonry or wood.

I’m editing for publication
all my journals, and the letters, trusted tales,
remembrances—a cautious, partial look.
Her mother’s standing there on every page.
I haven’t shown the thing to Evelyn yet.
I say, “I’ll let you read the final proofs.”
She knows it’s too late then, but doesn’t say.

The poem

It was very interesting to read, and then to watch and listen to this poem.  For me, it was a new experience.  Tom's voice adds to the depth of the poem, the pictures to its essence.
The one line that to me was remarable was--"but something in the ancient softness of the wood has sapped the courage from the paint."