Poet William Harney writes: “The poem about my father conflates things by describing me as a boy playing with him, as a young adult when he died, and my missing him now, long after. He was a big, gentle man who seemed always to enfold any of his eight children standing or sitting with them, a reassuring physical presence. In the process of writing a poem, of making choices, one of the rewards often is that your reasons for holding on to particular scenes and sensations becomes clearer, the emotional charge things have comes out. That happened for me here.”
When my brother and I were boys
My father stretched out on my parents’ bed was
A series of low foothills of flesh calling us to climb
And question the origin of every mark and mole.
Our inquiries brought from him straight-faced stories
Of bar fights and espionage that
Led to laughter and soft pushes in protest.
I still miss or why go back to it
The reassuring bulk of him, the surround his arms and
Back made, a refuge where humor and sweetness
Insulated us from our school-age fears.
When he died, it was as though all the rooms in our house
Were emptied of their furniture and we were left to stand about.
– William Harney
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