It must have been 1950. Racine, Wisconsin.
Was I nineteen. Was my father sixty
or sixty-one—the age I am now.
It must have been my first car, a Plymouth.
My father never drove, nor my mother.
Only one Armenian family,
as I remember, owned a car back then.
It is evening and I am driving him
to the Veteran’s building for some event
or meeting that he is attending.
We are downtown before I realize that
he is uncertain of the address.
He is used to walking everywhere,
and has become disoriented in my car
(but I don’t realize any of this
at the time). I am being impatient
with him. I don’t like being his chauffeur,
I want to get on with my life, not
be a helpmate in his.
Pull over, he says, reading my thoughts.
Which I do, feeling a little
uneasy, my conscience fighting
with my impatience. But I
pull over. He gets out and quickly
begins his hurried walk—
the walk I will always know
him by, and that I will always remember
when I think of him and think of myself.
He gets out in front of Woolworth’s.
It is dark out, but the street lights
are not on, and I am there, alone
in the semi-darkness,
unable to move, my car stationed at the curb.
And I am there still, watching,
staring at his back as he moves away,
knowing the Veteran’s building
is just three blocks away,
I would call if he could hear me
but he is on his own and alone
as I am
with whatever this is that I am.
David Kherdian grew up in Racine. According to his website, http://davidkherdian.com/
, he "is an internationally known poet, novelist, and memorist, whose work has been published in 13 languages around the world. He has published thirteen volumes in his acclaimed Root River Cycle, consisting of poetry, memoirs, novels and novellas.
"His biography of his mother, The Road From Home
, the sole survivor of her family of the Armenian Genocide, has been published around the world and has remained in print for 26 years."
See also: http://poetrydispatch.wordpress.com/2008/06/14/david-kherdian-nine-thirty-one-forty/