This Father’s Imperfect Love – Sixth Lineage Poem. Writing an honest poem is a profoundly private act. Making the decision to share that poem publicly is anything but. This is especially true if one is writing “about” a friend or family member who’s still alive to read it (bearing in mind that all we can ever write about is our experience of another person– it’s all we have.)
Looking over my work, it’s clear that some of my poems may never see the light of day. I sort of have a Hippocratic oath about my poems – “first, do no harm.” And I guess there’s the rub – continue to slice close to the bone without causing embarrassment or harm to another.
For example, looking back at the Fifth Lineage Poem (https://oldbonesnewsnow.com/2022/02/14/the-gift-of-an-exquisite-love-the-fifth-lineage-poem-valentines-day/) I know there are several other pieces I might have chosen that to me are very powerful, but that speak to aspects of our relationship that are too personal, too fraught to lob onto social media — sharing the intimacy of personal experience without invading the intimacy of another in the process.
So, here I turn and begin to look at the Lineage that descends from us rather than comes down to us. When our boys were born, I was so buried in career that there was no room for anything creative. It was only when I finally cried uncle and turned in my travel bag that a lifetime of suppressed creativity began to stir.
Consequently, I don’t have any contemporaneous work that touches on the joy, the mystery and the profound confusion that comes with newborns and the brilliance of little boys.
Instead, here are two pieces I wrote as the guys entered late adolescence, as they began to have a life that was increasingly invisible to their parents, as they left our family home for the world
I can’t protect them, but did I prepare them?
In a profound sense, it’s no longer my affair
fathering as you pass the salt I notice how your mouth always tips on the edge of a smile, but I’m distracted by the thought of screeching tires and as we talk, your curly hair bobs up and down (you know I'd like you to cut it – but not really) what I really want is for you to somehow find a way to protect yourself. and while desert is being served, I’m preoccupied with sheets being pulled over faces on a dark road I don’t recognize. so, I can barely clear away the plates while maintaining this pleasant conversation in complete dread, as I am of a decision you might one day make the one I won’t understand the one I will never, ever understand
They learn to stand as children, then turn to you as men, and then they go.
And there it is.
for a son I’ve been waking in the night grinding my teeth – some feelings are so close to the bone, so fragile they can’t support a whole stack of words like my denial that you will be leaving in the morning like my fear that I failed to teach you to fly
For a view of Patrick’s recent passions, here’s a link to his blog, Mountain Lessons- check it out! http://mountainlessons.com/