En Musiklärare

for Loren Milton Sederstrom

A sample tea tin—“Celestial Seasonings”—
himmelska kryddor—a buried souvenir now,

a token-worth of my father’s ashes inside,
lies tucked behind one window framing-board
he installed in the lumberjack’s moonshine
shack he turned into a family cabin by hand
and humor, påstridig, städlig ensam.

It fits the serendipity of the one place
his fragile humor was never forced,
though his few best jokes, or his wittier
facility for modest gesture, had dissolved
in a mute sigh forty years before he died.

We doubt—those of us who Scotch-taped
these ashes into a bad and fitting pun forever,
that the man would argue its fitness much
in spite of the lost years sacrificed
to self-inflicted bourgeois scrupulosity,

upward and away from the hapless rejection
of the teaching he loved and the music
he ceased to play or hear, all sacrificed
for the income and rigors of business,
the veneering of his guileless conscience,

and the last years of stroke-inflicted peace—
that the found humor we try too late to share
may still reflect the founder of this room:
the mock emblem, the scant apologetics
of my läppisch attempt at remembering.

Richard Fenton Sederstrom is the writer of six books, including Eumaeus Tends, and Selenity Book Four. His new book Sorgmantel, follows a view of Lucretius, but employs time, the predicate of physics, into a search for what can be imagined out of the possible and impossible. It can be read, perhaps, as an elegy for generations whose existence humankind is threatening, including humankind. Sederstrom was raised and lives in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and the North Woods of Minnesota. Read other articles by Richard Fenton.