After We Saw What There Was to See

by Lawrence Raab

After we saw what there was to see
we went off to buy souvenirs, and my father
waited by the car and smoked. He didn't need
a lot of things to remind him where he'd been.
Why do you want so much stuff?
he might have asked us. "Oh, Ed," I can hear
my mother saying, as if that took care of it.

After she died I don't think he felt any reason
to go back through all those postcards, not to mention
the glossy booklets about the Singing Tower
and the Alligator Farm, the painted ashtrays
and lucite paperweights, everything we carried home
and found a place for, then put away
in boxes, then shoved far back in our closets.

He'd always let my mother keep track of the past,
and when she was gone—why should that change?
Why did I want him to need what he'd never needed?
I can see him leaning against our yellow Chrysler
in some parking lot in Florida or Maine.
It's a beautiful cloudless day. He glances at his watch,
lights another cigarette, looks up at the sky.

please note: "See 7 states from Rock City, Tennessee!" on Lookout Mountain.


  1. Ah, but the memories are so worth all the time and energy to go places and see things when young.

  2. I always wanted to be like his father. Unfortunately, I'm like his mother...

  3. This one really stopped me in my tracks. When I saw the photo I thought it was the Grand Canyon and I immediately jetted back in time to a family week-long vacation there. My step-father set up a tripod prior to dawn and snapped a shot every 15 minutes, with the intent of capturing a marvelous sunrise movie over the GC. He would snap, then duck under the awning next to the lodge for warmth...smoking a cigarette. Just as the sun was coming up a couple came walking by and the man thought my step-father's tripod was a scope and he started moving it back and forth to get a my step-father screamed running toward him.

    The film? Now on VHS and I must transfer it to DVD some day. The part where the tourist adds his own "twist" on things is funny.

    My step-father's name? Ed.


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