My Father at 92
There is so much you don’t know about
After being dead for fifteen years.
This virus is terrible—it has deranged the world.
We won’t know for a while how that will work out.
The civil rights thing is interesting now—
Overt racism is as bad as it has ever been,
But some of it gets videotaped
And some bad cops have been convicted.
You’ve been dead so long you don’t even know
That the wars that started when you first got sick
Went on for years after your death.
We just left Afghanistan a few weeks ago—
It was was as bad as Saigon, 1975, maybe worse.
I’m glad you did not have to see that shit, it was bad.
And the whole climate change thing is crazy—
It’s real now and your grand-kids face it.
I’ll be dead, too, before things get truly bad.
I’m glad you do not have to know these things.
Tonight I feel your spirit in the wood
Of this house you built for your children.
It feels so good to me that you are innocent
Of any knowledge of what happened after you died.
If there is anything beyond history then now
You must inhabit that place,
And at least you are beyond pain.
Those last four years were rough.
There are things I would love to ask you,
And I would love to tell you about the life I have lived
Since you died—it has been hard and beautiful.
But I know you are beyond that now.
There was a fox in the meadow today,
And I have good wood—the fire is fierce
On the hearth you built. The house is warm,
And you look good for 92, your ashes rest
Where I can find them in Carpenter Cemetery,
And I always could talk to you.
Written by MacLean Gander © December 28, 2021
MacLean Gander grew up in Manhattan, where he attended the Collegiate School before studying at Harvard, where he received an A.B. in English and American Literature and Languages, cum laude. He was the Hoyt Fellow in creative writing at Boston University in 1981, where he took his Master’s in Creative Writing (Poetry).
In the 1980s he worked for several years as a researcher, writer, and reporter for Newsweek’s international edition in New York, and then spent two years in the Philippines covering the 1985 elections and 1986 “People’s Revolution” as a freelancer accredited to The Nation. After returning from Manila, he decided to relocate in Vermont and change his career path, taking a faculty position at Landmark College. In 1988, he was appointed English department chair, a position he held for nine years. In 1997 he was appointed Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College, a position he held for 11 years, a period of rapid growth and change for the college. During this time he earned an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Change from Fielding Graduate University. As Vice President for External Affairs and Strategic Planning from 2008 – 2009 he led and participated in the College’s consulting initiatives with the Kipp Charter Schools, The Prince Salman Center for Learning Disabilities Research in Riyadh, and with several other organizations and groups.
After returning to the faculty in 2009, MacLean held appointments in the writing department and then in the Core Education Program, teaching courses in composition, creative writing, journalism, and education. He currently holds an appointment in the Professional Studies program, where he teaches courses in journalism, leadership, and narrative nonfiction. He also donates his time as an investigative reporter for The Commons, Windham County’s nonprofit independent newsweekly, a role in which he is able to engage journalism and business students in internships and in doing reporting in real-world contexts. He lives in Brattleboro, Vermont, with his wife, the poet and artist Shanta Lee Gander.