Letters to George Lucas
Someone once asked me:
Is it better to have a bad father or no father?
I think I could ask Luke, or Anakin,
both ends of that dirty string,
or I could ask you, George. Do you know?
All I have are questions today,
a yard of leafless trees peppered
with birds that fly away, one after another.
Was it all just a lark singing in the sun for you?
Child of a world created on some planet other than mine,
dipping your finger into the mess of dysfunction,
watching the drops fall to your clean floor?
Were you looking for answers
to questions you never had to ask?
I need to know why you did it.
Was he born in you, farmer of light and dark,
angel of wet wings smoking in the dim of fall?
Who put you here, George, to tell me this story,
to make me believe that it all could be true?
That one small hand could lower
right into our center and lift us into the glint of better?
Did you sit down one day to write or eat, and pause,
fork to mouth, pencil to paper, and think--
Is it possible? Can we be saved?
George, what did your daddy do to you?
Excuse the intrusion, the hand in your pocket
looking for coins. I need to know why
you thought he was worth it because I keep chanting,
I believe, I believe, I believe,
but when the doors open, and this day blinks
back to the life I left waiting on the curb,
I won’t believe any further than this movie screen. Do you?
Where is the in-between, George, the boundary line for crossing?
Is it the spot of sunset on the floor of the Council Room
just before he left that last time? Or the moment of no, no, no,
when all is finally lost and can’t be denied?
When should I step back, George, and speak with my own voice?
When does the theater close and when will the answers
come to stay with more than an overnight bag?
I am asking you, George, because it took you six movies
and twenty years to tell the story of one man’s fall,
and one hope, clinging like a pearl in the belly of a child,
learning to grow in absence and in pain.
With all that time to think, I thought
you might have some answers because
you made me believe that in all the blackest corners
of one man's mind there was something still left
that would grow in light, and in this life, George,
away from the white glow of that screen,
He said, Girl, leave my memories alone.
Who would’ve thought he had a memory, George?
I didn’t know he had anything
still perched in my old room, dropping feathers,
boy of the dust bunny under the bed.
I remember a walled garden and waiting,
head tilting into a night of stars, frogs.
The green stem picked and dropped.
I was always waiting then: for his impatient shadow
stepping before him; words written, hasty,
but in ink, on paper, more tangible than tongue;
a storm to break the yellow yolk of sun and heat.
I grew fond of the end-stop,
the self-contained line,
the questions finally answered and left.
What did he ever know about answers?
No letters, no phone, no click of keys,
no ping of Sent. I think of Luke, waiting,
for someone to drop the careless crumb
of fact and father, to feed the room of nothing
he had collected and dusted, kept open
and waiting for guests. How sad
to open windows for air, make the bed,
in hope that someone might realize
they’ve forgotten, must turn back,
every finger trailing thread.
The dog is dying. Lung tumor,
Still and small, suddenly bolting in the heat,
spurt of fire taking breath. For months,
he wheezed just a bit after stairs
or a run through the yard.
Now, he coughs and crackles,
a failed engine, unable to turn over.
He leaves puddles in the hallway
and the children make excuses
for him, even the neighbors. Old men,
they say, can’t hold their pee.
They are right, of course, about men,
women too, their failure to hold
onto anything: minds, memory,
bladders, homes. Even the children gone,
eventually, some too bitter to come back,
some too scared to see the missing shingles,
cracked cement, the water-stained ceiling
beginning to buckle.
There are stains
we step over, rather than scrub.
The dog is dying, George, and
no one wants to watch.
I envy the choice, the ease we will give him.
I envy his ignorance of ending, remember
my grandparents waiting in front
of the TV for one sweet beat to fail.
The kindness we will show,
they were not shown. How we love
our animals. How we will not
let them suffer. I will write to say
when, where. I will write to say,
Kelly N. Cockerham is a mother and a writer. A graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in: Palooka, Ourobouros Review, Up the Staircase Quarterly, The Leveler, Soundzine and Tryst. She currently lives in Maryland, but most days from 9AM to 4 PM, only her body is there.