Fredrick Zydek

Letter to Naasz About Living After They’re Gone

Don’t look for closure, Harry. It’s not going to come.
He will never sleep beside you again, and there will never
be another morning when you wake up to hear him fussing
with the coffee pot and toaster in the kitchen. He’s gone.

I’m glad you have that old-fashioned Lutheran hope that
you’ll get together again in the sweet bye-and bye, over
on the other side of what goes on between life and death.
I’m sure it gives you more hope than the bag of doubts

I lug through the funerals I attend. I’m so glad the mind
has such a good remembering tool attached to it. I can
conjure up anyone I want — right down to the smell of their
cologne and the strange little birthmarks only intimates get

to see. I think we put so much of ourselves into them that
it’s not good to think we can ever really be ourselves once
they’re gone. They take much of who we are with them.
I often wonder if we keep as much of them here as well.

Perhaps they are stuck between their reality and ours right
now - and you and I stuck in theirs. Perhaps it is in this
way the universe keeps itself from falling apart. Perhaps
the long wait we have from the day they leave until we can

follow after them has to do with everything we have ever
believed about justice, peace, fulfillment, mercy and our
odd longing to last forever. What if this feeling we call
mourning is exactly the same size and shape of our love?

Letter to Stockton About Growing Old

Dear Richard: It seems to me my mind is just
about at its best right now. Not much intimidates
me and I have had the ability to connect things
when they help define another. Could be that
conjuring up metaphors all these years sharpened
that tool. I’m no longer taken in by used car
salesmen, charismatic preachers or snake oil venders.

I like the way I’ve learned to find satisfaction in
framing questions that cannot be answered and no
longer seek either saviors or bulwarks of truth.
I’m so overwhelmed just trying to appreciate what
is — I find very little time to fuss about what might
or ought be. Give me a roasted turkey leg, an essay
by Proust, a comfortable chair in the shade, someone

to keep the phonograph cranked up and Galli Curci
belting out a Puccini aria, and I’m as happy as a pig
in a mud puddle. At my age it’s foolish to be horny.
The equipment no longer works and desires seem
otherwise occupied. In many ways it’s like being eight
years old again. The world is my oyster and there’s
nothing but the need for food and water and about 13
pills a day to get in the way of following my curiosities.

Before he retired, Fredrick Zydek taught creative writing and theology for many years, first at UNO and later at the College of Saint Mary. He bought a small farm and raises soybeans and corn to supplement his income these days.

He writes: "In the blow-your-own-horn department I have eight collections of poetry out. ENDING THE FAST, my third, included a quartet titled “Songs from the Quinault Valley” which was awarded the Sarah Foley O’Loughlen Literary Award by the editors of America.

"My work has appeared in The Antioch Review, Cimmaron Review, The Hollins Critic, New England Review, Nimrod, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Yankee, and others. My collection, T’KOPACHUK: THE BUCKLEY POEMS, is forthcoming from Winthrop Press, and a chapbook entitled HOOKED ON FISH will be released from the Holmes House Chapbooks Series this September.

"I have in excess of 800 publishing credits which include personal essays, fiction, academic articles, plays, poems, and an occasional review. I’m either incredibly prolific or incredibly old."

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