Writing About My Father, Day 20

Here are two poems from the summer. They are still very much in draft form.


My father is dying. Quickly.
Some days he struts the walk
crowing, “My blood count is up;
the beets are working.”

Still, the walled city inside him
persists. My father—valiant explorer
of lands where love is loss—
is no cartographer.

The x-rays remain unexamined,
the blueprints of the walled city
catalogued with the secret
routes and byways.

Many fathers have cancer.
Many fathers across the land
lay claim to cities they
refuse to visit.

Many daughters have been
walking toward their fathers
for years bereft of a compass
recognizing not even one landmark.


The father transformed, grown small, the great and terrible wings withered. Flight grown impossible, still he dreams himself a king passed hand to hand to hand by a carpet of women, eager, willing. He doesn’t look down, this small father borne aloft. He feels only soft hands, imagines cloud banks of tenderness, his wings stretched and taut like Eros himself. He doesn’t see anger curled around the ankles of the women, waiting waiting waiting, inching its way upward past shinbone, past knee bone, past hips and waists and elbows. He doesn’t hear the women’s teeth sharpen and grow terrible. He almost misses the moment they drop him; he falls down down down the air grown noisy with war and unrepentance.

Posted on November 22, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I look forward to the final versions because these drafts are quite excellent. In “After,” the image of the “father, grown small” really resonates with me and, I bet, everyone whose fathers are elderly and ailing. But I really love “Maps.” The final stanza, especially “bereft of a compass/ recognizing not even one landmark” is as beautiful as it is sad.

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