My Father’s Obituary by Ty Stumpf
My Father's Obituary
My father kept
a folder labeled “When I Die” in his desk.
The top sheets, a two-page typed
autobiography with a blank for the last date.
His yearly calendars,
long and lean, hugged his breast pocket
like love letters. Each November 18, three words.
“Anniversary. Send Flowers.”
Thirty Novembers of flowers.
The price noted in his ledgers
right below the electric bill.
Right above the check for my birthday.
His x-rays glowed with the tumor
like a white spider
fattening in his webbed lung.
In his office, I sit in a sea of green ledgers,
their grainy pages covered in light blue graph lines.
In each, his crisp handwriting is a solid black.
Nothing crossed out.
I’ve torn his obituary from the paper,
I fold the ragged edges back,
crease the paper until the corners sharpen.
Editor's Note: In the fall, Passages North will launch a special series in which our associate poetry editors champion a particular poet or poem. But we didn't want anybody to wait to read the above poem. Here's what our Zarah Moeggenberg had to say about why she chose Ty Stumf's "My Father's Obituary" as her first offering: "Specifically, I love the rhythm of Ty Stumpf's poem. The thing about this poem is that when we read it we hear a real voice. So many poets are concerned with the length of the line; Stumpf is concerned about sound. He is concerned with how his reader is going to hear the voice. He scripts well. I also appreciate the shock of the line 'His x-rays glowed with the tumor.' The undercurrent of the poem swoops up when we least expect it."
Ty Stumpf lives in Sanford, North Carolina, and is the Chair of the Humanities Department at Central Carolina Community College. Ty received his BA in English from Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina, and his MA in English and creative writing from North Carolina State University. Ty and his wife Bianka have a son named Jude and a daughter named Cora.