Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My old man


To be honest, it’s not clear how you got this job.
Maybe you applied, maybe it just happened
to you like a piano falling out of a third story
window, jingling down black keys of destiny
on your incipient male-pattern baldness.

You try and learn how to love. For a guy that’s not
easy. Mostly all you have known is movies with
explosions and lots of cleavage. And now, all of a
sudden, you’re watching a tiny chest rising and falling,
speechless before one of the wonders of the world.

Over the years, you walk the wire like you own dad did.
Sternly setting your deckchair at strategic points on the
beach, sometimes for well-considered reasons, sometimes
just to prove that you are still bigger and wiser, and
that you do in fact exist and matter somehow in the universe.

But meanwhile there’s the constant undertow. The cloud
of unknowing pierced by unforgiving questions. The realization
that maybe you don’t understand at all. That all you have
succeeded in becoming is a carbon copy of your own father.
And in a way, you don’t mind. As long as the kid is okay.

But then comes the night. And you’re lying awake, listening.
Listening for the front door to open and close. Listening
for voices to tell you that actually nothing is wrong. Listening
to the vast silence. Listening to your baby crying, because
his whole body hurts and he doesn’t understand why.



Written for a prompt over at the wonderful Poetic Bloomings site.

10 comments:

Heaven said...

Very interesting perspective...on relating to your father and son towards the end.

You hold your emotions very well...walk the wire like your dad did...constant undertow. For me, learning to be a dad (or mom) takes time and patience ~

Brian Miller said...

shivers...i think this is something that scares many guys, just being that carbon copy...we carry much forward generation to generation without much thought...really masterfully woven...thanks for sharing it with dverse as well...

Natasha Head said...

Would like to go on record stating this is not just a guy thing. It put me on a softball team filled with mean little boys when I was young (learned a few life lessons there!) I fear I am destined to fulfill a legacy that was never really mine...and that I will make a terribly unworthy substitute...OKAY! Enough about me! Wicked write, obviously, or I wouldn't be spilling my own hangups all over your space for the world to see ;)

ayala said...

Nice write.... Challenging to not be like our parents....

Laurie Kolp said...

I've tried real hard not to be like my mom, but as I age I see little things creep up that are so her.

http://lkkolp.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/granted-constitutional-rights/

Sharp Little Pencil said...

Andrew, I wish more fathers had this kind of love for their children. I know I have it for Riley, but the mom experience is totally different. Your use of the word "undertow" was perfect. Thanks for a great read, my friend.

I'M BACK! Amy
http://sharplittlepencil.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/emotional-dyslexic/

S.E. Ingraham said...

Andrew - I really like your style; this is a neat take on the whole fatherhood thing esp the nervousness that I think many parents carry with them as they try and live up to their roles ... without necessarily becoming their own parents. Well done.

C Rose said...

a very raw power to the way you express the point of view in this. I found this quite compelling, well done! ~ Rose

Mary Mansfield said...

"just to prove that you are still bigger and wiser, and
that you do in fact exist and matter somehow in the universe."

Now that is a sentiment I understand more and more as my daughter gets older. This is such a wise poem about someone who doubts his own wisdom. You've captured the anxieties of parenthood extremely well.

Dick Jones said...

Wise, sad and powerful.