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Seeing Daddy in the Mirror

I walked past a mirror
‘Twas uncovered still
And my dad was there staring back
His face shining through,
His round belly too,
Though he died of a quick heart attack

His smirky smile,
His whitened goatee,
His eyes, twinkling at me just so
Imperceptibly winking at me,
So only I could see,
And for a moment the world was aglow

I’ve acknowledged already
His values I share
His love of Israel, of Judaism and family,
How he prioritized youth,
Ain’t that the truth
How he shared such a basic humanity

How he made others feel special
How his jokes made you cringe
How he teased everyone like a fiend
Until you smiled once you knew
That he was playing with you –
His humor ought to have been quarantined

Oh I’ve tried to improve
On many a thing
Like my parenting and my emotional clarity
And to temper the temper
And multitask through the pain
Though I still fall into sarcastic vulgarity

No, I am not him
Though he’s inside of me
My life’s task is to balance, to define
The beautiful things he bequeathed
The challenging parts to decrease
And to decide which treasures are mine

One day with the grandkids
I expect I’ll be like him
Yes, Papa, I’d like to be called
And like him I’ll roll on the ground
Passing candy around
‘Til those lil tykes are totally enthralled

But for now when I miss him
When I wish he were here
When the loss feels more painful and clearer
I’ll just walk down the hall
And forget I am Paul
And just glance in the living room mirror.


Explore more poetry about mourning Papa (my dad, Ken Kipnes).

Watch my videos about mourning

Enjoy more of my spoken word poetry

One comment

  1. Dale Robin-Gross says:

    Rabbi Paul. In sharing your experience you put into words ours. What a gift. You are taking care of us in a different way. My heart is with you. Thanks, Dale

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