A Poem for My Father

A Poem for My Father

Dad (Melvin Crum), James L. and Ben Crum Jr. at Setser reunion. 2000? (Dad, Uncle James L., Uncle Junior)


Father’s Cupboard

My father’s cupboard—built by hand

held baby food jars and Prince Albert Tobacco cans

full of nails or screws.

And always, oily boxes with torn labels

too heavy for me to tip and peek into.

These were the secret things my father used

to hold the world together.

Committed these past fifty years to the basement,

bracing the house I grew up in,

it was once Mom’s kitchen cupboard.

Dad painted it smiling-teeth white and Kool-aid red.

It sat near-to-bursting in the kitchen

until banished in favor of Danish modern throughout.

This morning in the basement,

jacking up the kitchen floor above,

it takes four of us to extract the cupboard

from the embrace of floor joists.

For the house is sagging now,

despite the stoic Danes, despite Dad.

I brush away cobwebs, check all its porcelain knobs.

It is dripped with spilled paint—pink on the red.

Perhaps the pink he used making my own

small table and chairs?  Or the pink

of my sister’s dollhouse—almost forgotten.

And sky blue.  Perhaps a birdhouse,

or a project of my brother’s?  Maybe it is the blue

of the metal chair that sat in the yard

idly reflecting on the sky while I attended school,

met boys, and fell in love.

My father’s cupboard is scarred and anointed with color.

Until the very end we left it to its labors, and only now

wrest it from the grieving house.

©Shutta Crum 2005


hammock  Dad’s cupboard. I still have it.







About Shutta

Shutta Crum writes picture books for children, novels for teens and poetry for adults. She is also a storyteller, a public speaker and a librarian. Her poems have appeared in numerous literary journals, and her articles about teaching and writing have appeared in many professional journals. In 2005, she was honored by being one of eight authors invited to the White House for the Easter Egg Roll. In 2010 she was invited to tour American military base schools across Japan. Her latest book is MOUSELING'S WORDS(Clarion, 2017). It has garnered glowing reviews.

2 Responses

  1. Loved this! The Picture made me cry! Miss them! Thanks for sharing!