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Posts Tagged ‘poems about fathers’

I had the chills as soon as I started reading this devastating Tiana Clark poem from her collection, Equilibrium. 

Tiana clark.jpeg

“A Blue Note for Father’s Day”

Because I don’t know where you are–
   I send you a letter of tree leaves

I heard this morning harmonizing
   like emerald waves above a pond.

I send you John Coltrane,
   who locked himself in a room of amethyst

for days with no food or mercy to write
   A Love Supreme

We destroy ourselves for splendor–
   emerging from the buried deep

like cicada song to mate & disappear again.
   Today, I will not be bitter

about this holiday or the Facebook posts.
   No, today I send you a roofless church,

a grotto with fuzzy moss & trickling water
   that sounds like wet piano keys.

Please know–I’ve made good with my life.
   With or without you, I know how to kneel

before imperfect men. I know this pond can carry
   cold morning skin like blue blue notes

pressed from warm saxophone buttons for:
   Acknowledgment, Resolutions, Pursuance, & Psalm.

Dear father, I hope you know that I can love
   the absence of a thing even more than

the thing itself. That I can have one day a year
   that doesn’t beat like the rest.

& friends, don’t ever wish to be me.
   You don’t want this sunless song.

There is no number in my phone to call
   There is no home with his face I remember,

just a place called Nowhere & this is where
   I find & lose him like a savior.

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This gorgeously layered Li-Young Lee (1957-) poem felt right for this rainy day in a draught-stricken landscape, in any landscape really.

lylee

“Water”

The sound of 36 pines side by side surrounding
the yard and swaying all night like individual hymns is the sound
of water, which is the oldest sound,
the first sound we forgot.

At the ocean
my brother stands in water
to his knees, his chest bare, hard, his arm
thick and muscular. He is no swimmer.
In water
my sister is no longer
lonely. Her right leg is crooked and smaller
than her left, but she swims straight.
Her whole body is a glimmering fish.

Water is my father’s life-sign.
Son of water who’ll die by water,
the element which rules his life shall take it.
After being told so by a wise man in Shantung,
after almost drowning twice,
he avoided water. But the sign of water
is a flowing sign, going where its children go.

Water has invaded my father’s
heart, swollen, heavy,
twice as large. Bloated
liver. Bloated legs.
The feet have become balloons.
A respirator mask makes him look
like a diver. When I lay my face
against his—the sound of water
returning.

The sound of washing
is the sound of sighing,
is the only sound
as I wash my father’s feet—
those lonely twins
who have forgotten one another—
one by one in warm water
I tested with my wrist.
In soapy water
they’re two dumb fish
whose eyes close in a filmy dream.

I dry, then powder them
with talc rising in clouds
like dust lifting
behind jeeps, a truck where he sat
bleeding through his socks.
1949, he’s 30 years old,
his toenails pulled out, his toes beaten a beautiful
violet that reminds him
of Hunan, barely morning
in the yard, and where
he walked, the grass springing back
damp and green.

The sound of rain
outlives us. I listen,
someone is whispering.
Tonight, it’s water
the curtains resemble, water
drumming on the steel cellar door, water
we crossed to come to America,
water I’ll cross to go back,
water which will kill my father.
The sac of water we live in

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Music becomes even more resplendent, commanding, and at times spiritual in the capable hands of Anne-Marie Thompson, a pianist herself whose love of music–and those who play–echoes throughout the pages of her first book, Audiation.

“Siberia, 1986”

Clutched in a fist of dust    a halo of dust
    the track ramshackled up the road from nowhere
    from some other nowhere    and    as if all this were
written down     written in dust     and to it you shall return
as if we made a mark on any map at all
    pulled over to my father and me    and he
    familiar    leaned out the window saying come
and there would be a concert at the church
I will be playing a concert at the church
and so we followed him and there was a crowd
already gathered    neighbors    some were strangers
but like us    they were strangers but poor like us
and we were quiet together and the twilight was quiet
    the twilight waited with us      and we all watched
as he stepped down and someone helped him loosen
the locks and straps    like untethering a bear
                                                                        the piano
growled and squeaked as they guided it      a whisper
    Richter    Sviatoslav Richter from the radio
they said
     and he sat down and we understood
    the actual weight of gravity        remembered
what the earth looks like     sounds like     from heaven
    and we were quiet together     and the man
was serious     was serious as his hands were serious
    bear hands    iron hands     but gentle as a man
can be gentle and he knew the actual weight
of our sorrows     and we were quiet together
                                                                     and when
my father and I walked home      walked in silence home
we knew the heaviness of each other’s hearts    the heaviness
of those gentleman hands    hard hands and we were quiet
and heard    something    a coming and a going
    a breath or a raising up     the whisper of a sickle
the lifting     of a page     the lifting of hands

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“Poem for my Father’s Ghost”

–Mary Oliver

Now is my father
A traveler, like all the bold men
He talked of, endlessly
And with boundless admiration,
Over the supper table,
Or gazing up from his white pillow —
Book on his lap always, until
Even that grew too heavy to hold.

Now is my father free of all binding fevers
Now is my father
Travelling where there is no road
Finally, he could not lift a hand
To cover his eyes.
Now he climbs to the eye of the river,
He strides through the Dakotas,
He disappears into the mountains, And though he looks
Cold and hungry as any man
At the end of a questing season,

He is one of them now:
He cannot be stopped.

Now is my father
Walking the wind,
Sniffing the deep Pacific
That begins at the end of the world.

Vanished from us utterly,
Now is my father circling the deepest forest —
Then turning in to the last red campfire burning
In the final hills,

Where chieftains, warriors and heroes
Rise and make him welcome,
Recognizing, under the shambles of his body,
A brother who has walked his thousand miles.

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