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for Frank Leslie "Buster" Redfield
May 14, 1925 - Oct. 31, 2004




we call him Papa
and he could move mountains with his silence

he fathered a family of artists
who knew the value of labor
the efficiency of expression
if it is unclear, rephrase it
if it is unusable, remove it
if it is imperfect, rework it
until it is as much a part of you
as a limb
he never said this
but his life implied it

his stone eyes
edited lies from our speech
before we could speak them
his hands held me tight once
after I sinned
they held me soft
when my father translated himself
into a mythology
I've since ceased believing in
his hands were the tools
with which he spoke through his silence

he carved and crafted rifles
like Stradivarius made violins
and the first recoil
was a symphony
compressed to a split second
he brought wood to life
as though generations of forests grew
to make the right grain
the right feel worthy of his talent

he did not build airplanes,
he built aircraft with the precision of a heart surgeon
knowing a loose screw, one misaligned wire
could transform a craft of beauty
into a coffin
and wife like his into a widow
he made no widows
except one

he crafted art that soared like mechanical angels
and made us feel
how he must have felt with Grandma

even in his absence he scares me
because he was so much more
of what a man should be
than the men I see around me
than the man who fathered me

he was sometimes the machine moving me
he was sometimes the monster under my bed
keeping me from going gently into the night
without fighting the darkness
he was sometimes a giant
stretching hands from horizon to horizon
holding down the sun and moon
and dictating their rising

I am convinced that eastern Montana
is so perfectly flat
in awe of him

we call him Papa
and he could move mountains with his silence

I never heard him say he loved her
not in words
not in a way I could steal
not in a way that the cheap poet in me
could have plagiarized into a stanza
for some mediocre poem unworthy of his memory

I never heard him say he loved her with words

he said it with his eyes

he said it in the stories my mother would tell me
about how he would raise armies and wage wars
just to bring her flowers

he said it with the way he told me
about driving across New York and Pennsylvania every weekend
just to see her for two hours between college classes and curfews

he said he loved her by playing "waltzing matilda" on a harmonica
like he was asking her to dance for the first time,
even after all these years

he said he loved her
by showing us how good man
should love a woman right

we call him Papa
and he could move mountains with his silence

he is the poet
me, his eldest grandson,
I am just his microphone
My grandfather, Frank Leslie "Buster" Redfield died on Oct. 31, 2004. I wrote this poem for a poetry slam the next friday in Sedona. On Nov. 11, I drove from Sedona, Ariz. to Opheim, Mont. in 22 hours, nonstop, alone, on cigarettes and 8 cans Red Bull. I read this poem at the service in front of my grandmother, their seven children, their 17 grandchildren, his sister, and the whole of the town of 200 people. He was a major figure in the town's history. I stayed for about 24 hours, then had to drive back, again nonstop.
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:iconmistyvision:
mistyvision Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2008
i have goosebumps once again. this is amazing.
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:iconmagicdragon:
Magicdragon Featured By Owner May 30, 2006  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I choked up, but I cry never, otherwise I would be. It was perfect.
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:iconxxdr0psxx:
xXdr0psXx Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2006
i am really crying from this one,
the love is tangable
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:iconthou-shalt-not:
thou-shalt-not Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2004
I am in love with every word you write.
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:iconjenna-dee:
jenna-dee Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2004   Writer
*applause* your work has such blunt but tender brilliance about it! it amazes me incredibly..
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:iconsisandbro:
sisandbro Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2004
*cries* there are no words. no words.
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November 21, 2004
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