When my father was close
to death, we were stripped
of our history. I sat by his bed,
holding the ancient, twig-like
hand of a ninety-three-year-old
who, though absent for years,
was mythic to me.
As he lay there, under the weight
of a stroke, life undressed the myth
I put on him and he was just a frail
old man who had introduced me
to the sea, who had loved wood
into marvelous shapes, who sur-
rounded himself with books
though he was a slow reader.
After a lifetime of holding back,
he wanted to speak, though he
couldn’t. And I understood
A Question to Walk With: Describe someone important in your life and how your sense of them has shifted over the years.
This excerpt is from my book of poems, The Tone in the Center of the Bell.