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Nancy Simpson's LIVING ABOVE THE FROST LINE, New and Selected Poems was published by Carolina Wren Press (N.C. Laureate Series, 2010.) She is the author of ACROSS WATER and NIGHT STUDENT, State Street Press, still available on WWW at Alibris and Books Again. Her poems have been published in Southern Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, The Georgia Review and other literary magazines. "Carolina Bluebirds" was published in THE POETS GUIDE TO THE BIRDS, Anhinga Press). "Grass" was reprinted in the 50th Anniversary Issue of Southern Poetry Review: DON'T LEAVE HUNGRY ( U.of Arkansas Press.) Seven poems were reprinted in the textbook, SOUTHERN APPALACHIAN POETRY,(McFarland.) Two poems were published in SOLO CAFE, Two more poems were published in SOLO NOVO."In the Nantahala Gorge" was published in Pisgah Review. "Studying Winter" was reprinted in Pirene's Fountain Anthology and "The Collection" in Collecting Life Anthology. Most recently, Southern Poetry Review Edited by James Smith, published "Our Great Depression," and The Southern Poetry Anthology Vol. VII: NORTH CAROLINA,Edited by William Wright, reprinted "Leaving in the Dead of Winter."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Three Poems to Honor Her Father on Father's Day by Nancy Simpson

There are things I could say about my father, all good. I was one of the blessed children of earth when it comes to parents. In the few times I feel my father near, now that he has passed into eterenity, I find myself being brief in my thank yous to him. "Thanks for the dancing lessons. Thanks for the homemade peach ice cream. Thanks for the wicker chair." I've also caught myself saying to no one, "You like my new house?" I owe my father 100% gratitude.

#1) My father loved me. He showed his love. He made me feel as if I was his only child when he had three other children in the house.

#2) No man every worked harder to provide for his family, and it was not all easy with war and the depression years. He provided well. I never felt that I needed more.

Depression Years - Good life at Knuckolls Dairy, Atlanta, Georgia - "All the milk a new born could need."

#3) Although he held other jobs, he was a planter. He lived for the short period of time when he could get his hands in the dirt. He'd plant corn and pole beans if he could get the ground.

Clyde Taylor Simpson in front of home 1940's, Miami, Florida. Back of photo says, "This is my house. How do you like it?"

One summer, when I was a teen, he had an ulcer. We thought it was cancer. I thought he was dying. He could not work. He left us in Miami and went to Atlanta where all of his folks lived. Mother said they would get him well. We waited to hear good or the bad news. When school was out for the summer, my mother sent me to Atlanta to see about him. Ha. He was more well than I had ever seen him. He looked tan and healthy. He had rented 10 acres of land and was growing corn like I'd never seen before. Later in his life, he gave up vegetables for flowers, but more than once I found a pineapple growing under his mango tree and found tomato bushes growing in his flower beds. Later, he became a landscaper for the Florida Racing Commission. On Sundays after church he would drive the family to Hialeah Race Track to see his gardens.

The best of life in Miami, Florida.

The last thing my father planted and grew was a cornfield in the front yard of his Hayesville, NC retirment house. No one could see the house from the road. Mother was embarrassed. Growing things is what made my father happy.

#4) The night my father died, I was traveling home from classes at UNC Asheville. My mother told me he called my name, along with the names of my sisters and brother and that he asked God to watch over us.

Bridge on the River Kwai

All those times, all those bridges,
Georgia to Florida, sand
in his shoes, red clay in his pocket.
I wonder what passed through my father's mind.

He never said much about hurricanes
or corn, except you pull it not pick it.
One summer in Georgia I primised to pull
all the corn in ten acres he planted.

Indolent girl, red clay in my pocket,
I remember a movie in East Atlanta.
Prisoners built a bridge across water,
building, building, the whole movie.

I was too young to know why
they blew it all to pieces in the end.
This morning a half drowned woman wakes me.
I open the window. She has come many miles

across water. Her memories are mine.
She gives me one starfish, one mango
and reminds me how I climbed the tree
when the flood came, after the hurricane.

I give her anemone for starfish.
I give her a mountain. The safest place to be.

by Nancy Simpson. Previously published
in Across Water and Night Student.


I think first of my father,
how one day he did not remember
passing through town. Everything
looked different. He guessed
his mind was somewhere else.

I want to thank him
for telling me, so cassual he spoke.
I want to thank him,
it means I am not crazy,
for he was not crazy.
The night he died he knew what he was doing.


He Knew how to die.
We say that of my father
and tell the story,
how he sat on the sofa
hardly breathing,
three nights without sleeping.

I was traveling home
from night school in Asheville,
ice on the road in the high elevations.


What I know I learned from my mother,
so good she was to tell me
how he sat on the sofa, praying,
calling the names of his children.

God is going to let me sleep,
he said, and died within minutes,

at the same time I was dreaming
white cloudlands, white seals,
my car plowing homeward
through Winding Stair Gap.

by Nancy Simpson. Previously published
in Across Water and Night Student.


In memory of my father
who loved to sit on a covered porch
and watch rain, I sit sheltered
and sip coffee on my covered deck
high on Cherry Mountain.
Near treetops I sing louder than
the downpour that falls inches from me.
"You like my new house?" I trill
above the sound of raindrops.

Mr.Whiskers asleep on my feet
under the wicker love seat, wakes.
He thinks my song is for him.
I look deep into gray mist, eye to eye
with thin green leaves of a thousand trees
and sing welcome to white blossoms
on dogwood trees no one planted.
I am singing. I am singing to my father
who loved to sit close to rain.

by Nancy Simpson

Previously published in LIGHTS IN THE MOUNTAINS,
Stories, Essays and Poems by Writers
Living in and Inspired by the
Southern Appalachian Mountains.


Brenda Kay Ledford said...

These poems and photos about your father are very, very touching. I almost cried as I read your beautiful poetry about your father. He looked like such a kind man. How fortunate you had such a wonderful father.

Nancy Simpson said...

Thanks Brenda Kay, Father's Day this year made me think all day and made me remember how fortunate I was to have the father I had. When I dug out the old photos and really took a look, I saw that yes, kindness shows on his face.

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Beautiful Nancy. What a lovely tribute to your father. I know he would be proud of you and your inspiring poetry.

Nancy Simpson said...

Thanks Sam. I was a bit overwhelmed with memories this father's day.

karenh said...

Oh Nancy, those stories, pictures and poems about your father gave me the goose bumps, in a good way. What a lovely tribute to a man who sounds and looks like a marvelous person.

And now that I've seen your house, I can say, "Yes, I like it!" (exclamation point intended)

Pat Workman said...

While reading this moving tribute to your father, I got chills and I felt deep rumblings--the good kind, the kind I always get when I read your poetry. I loved seeing your father's photos. He does look kind and loving. I am glad he finally got to have his cornfield in Hayesville. The journey of your family from GA to Miami (of all places) and back to GA. From red clay to mangoes, hurricanes and Sundays at Hialeah—yes that was the high life, what a great read. This post was packed with adventure, wonder and simple goodness from beginning to end.

Nancy Simpson said...

Thanks, Pat. Father's Day, I was suddenly struck with the thought - have to post a poem for my dad. I didn't know one post would almost tell the whole story. I'm gald it was well received.