Sunday, June 19, 2016
For All The Fathers
For all the fathers with us and gone,
the ones who worked in factories
and taught us to drive cars,
the ones who knew how to put a worm on a hook
and how to get a fish, flopping, off of it.
For all the fathers, lonely on their couches,
ash trays on their bellies, the smell
of cigarettes on their hands, the blare
of the television drowning out the voices
of those too difficult to remember,
even some of those still living and breathing
in the same room.
For all the fathers reaching for their books
turning to the pages of poetry that give music
to the sounds trapped inside them, turning
the pages of manuals that informed their hands
on how to make furniture for the family, toys
for the grandchildren, cradles for the neighbor’s children
adopted from Vietnam.
For all the fathers who once, when boys, looked up
to see their own fathers standing in the place
of the men who came before them, men
who loved a good story, a certain spring flower,
the smell of dust rising after a rain.
For all the fathers who could not give
what was expected of them
and showed this by their absence, gone
in a bottle, gone on a rampage, gone
on an assignment. Gone. Gone. Gone.
For all the fathers who lifted and carried groceries
over water, babies up mountains, children off to bed,
war stories untold for decades, and memories from childhood
they could not speak of even to the ones they loved.
For all the fathers in good health and ill, for their strength
and their weariness, the dwindling away of possibility
into the wrinkles and bald spots we remember
before the final good-byes. For all the fathers,
the silent, the speaking, and the fathers
all of their young boys will become.
- Ann Arbor