Saturday, September 17, 2011

Naked To The Day

I Ching calls the north and east the realm of solitude, appropriate to contemplation, meditation and rest.

This poem was written on an anniversary of my stepfather's birthday.

My Mother and My Step-Father before they
were married, ca. 1951
Robert Henry Hileman, in his youth known as Stormy, was a Marine in WWII, just old enough to get in at the last, landed in Okinawa and was headed to invasion of the main islands when the bomb stopped it all. When Stormy Hileman (he was a football hero on the Cal Rosebowl team of 48 I think it was; then he tried for, almost made a professional slot on the 49ers) got serious about marrying Mom, what tipped it was when I asked if he would be my Daddy. What had happened, my real father had stopped coming to visit when he saw that another man was hanging around. Before then my father would come on Sundays and spend the day with me.

I have no idea what really happened in that two year marriage in which I arrived on the planet. It was my mother's second(...she annulled her first. She also annulled her fourth, and was married five times. She always said she had affinity with Liz Taylor, knew just what Liz was about. If you're going to lay them, you have to marry them.) Near the end of my real father's life we were in contact. I made a small remark about Mom divorcing him and got quite a letter back. His wound after nearly fifty years was still fresh.

My Mother and my Step-Father's Wedding
Picture, 1951
I was a childhood asthmatic and really was pretty sick. This man Stormy married us anyway, what was to be an eighteen year marriage. At the end, I found myself in an awkward position. I was absolutely one of my mother's supports as they divorced. For the first part of it I was her only support, because of our circumstances. I did well enough, I think, but I had to be diplomatic because I completely understood and agreed with my step dad's need to get out.

My step father Stormy was built like the center-linebacker he was and he was a red head, handsome only as some red heads can be, unusually hirsute all over except he was noticeably balding at the age of seventeen. He was born on December 18 in Perry, Oklahoma, and his family came to the Ventura area of California to settle, coming out of the dust bowl, genuine Okies. His mother, Ruth Spurlock, divorced his father, Charles Hileman, who settled into West Texas, there to become a contractor in the oil fields, a man who raised chinchillas at home. Stormy had an older brother, Jack, who became a college professor of chemistry and who had a cabin in Northern California on the Klamath River, I believe it was. One of my step dad's friends and team mates on that Cal championship team was Jackie Jensen, who later had a great career as a Right Fielder with the Boston Red Sox. Another was Leo Nomellini who made it to the 49ers offensive line. Stormy's working life was in the school systems of California and overseas, first as a teacher, then as a school administrator, but he ran afoul of the teacher education system and never got his doctorate. He tried several times. At the end he was a serious computer buff. He died painfully of bone cancer in the early summer of 2001. He has a daughter Caroline and through her two grandchildren, all coming from the family he formed after leaving my mother.

Naked To The Day

And I will join the feast of love,
standing on the brink of things,
feathers catching northeast wind
while my old skin tightens in the air
of this new morning's chill.

December 18, 2009 8:05 AM


  1. Christopher I love this! not only the poem, the post as well.

  2. I liked the way you narrated this...
    and the poem.. what do I say.. you belong to a different class altogether. Christopher.... than


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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