Every poem I write for my father is called twilight
Clouds make shadows on the mountains.
I walk through their green darkness. I want
a wind to silence thought, a storm to drown
out prayer, electric stillness, the promise
of breaking. You can walk three days
into woods and not find a single birch
worth a canoe. I know. I have done it.
I have loved slender saplings peeled white
and mourned for their cracking death
in ice. You never trusted your canvas
to my hands, never taught me the courage
of rapids. But I learned to read cocoons
and the wings of beetles, spider silk
and the veins of fern. I can follow bear
spoor studded with blackberry seed,
walk through thorns and not care if my legs
are bloodied. I have knelt on bruised knees,
mouth to rough water, asked the snake
to rattle your path from his one rock.
I want to remember dawn. I will listen for
the hawk to fold his wings.
Editor’s Note: The intense clarity of the imagery in this poem conveys the weight of myriad emotions that couldn’t otherwise be articulated.
Poet’s Note: This poem has had an interesting life. It appeared many years ago in a now defunct internet publication, Three Candles, and as the title poem for an on-line chapbook (also now defunct). More recently it was included in two museum projects in New Hampshire pairing words and graphic art, one at the Museum of the White Mountains and one at Castle in the Clouds. I was reminded of the piece as we approach Father’s Day.