Keeper of the Irish Flame

Our parents die and we miss them. When they were alive, they drove us nuts. They were the reason we weren’t “reaching our potential” — Wounded children, children of wounded parents, Parents of more wounded children, grandchildren, great grand-children.

You are now the keeper of the flame. The blame is lifted. Our parents, under ground, absolved, worship replaces the steamy hostility, the yearning, to be away from them,to be rid of them? And Then, I could, I would, if they didn’t, why don’t they, if only I’d, they should have, and the rest of them. Those siblings. Blood of blood, what is blood really, salt water and bio-degradables. Why don’t they, why should I, we shouldn’t, they should.

They won’t.

You are now the keeper of the flame. You have passed their genes on, that wasn’t too difficult. A couple of rolls in the hay, a few lies, alot of denial, glorious days at the park, a few stitches. Let’s applaud each other, we wounded children of plenty.

Then, let’s get to work.

We are the keeper of the flame. The flame that burned inside our father and mother. The flame that the world extinguished. On the back burner, as the years turned to decades, and the foundation of the house collapsed. No one spoke of it. But there is was, a poem written by my mother won a Kodak prize in the local newspaper. Nothing special, she thought. My father, wild in his Greek cap, singing along with a Frank Sinatra tape. Can’t tell the voices apart. Six beers deep. Who remembers?

I am the keeper of the Irish flame that burned up into the atmosphere in cremation. Eyes donated to science. Ashes buried without fanfare or fame.

A man on a train, during the war, near Boston, handed my father his card. “Call me after the war.” A theatrical agent stunned by my father’s movie-star looks.

“We thought about calling” my mother said. “But… this and that.”

My grandfather, a traveling penman, jumping boxcars during the depression, town to town, inscribing certificates of honor from New England to California. His calligraphy carved across country newspapers now in dark drawers, yellowed, anonymous.

We are the keeper of the flame. Our children, leave them in peace. They’ve got enough expected of them.

Burn the flame in memory and forgiveness. Set it afire, your life, let it rage.


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