Sonnets To My Father
He’s eighty-four, and still he’s going strong.
That’s what I say, but he complains of loss
Of strength. So he pushes out his daily walk
A block, then two, and soon he’s gone so long
He cannot remember where he’s been. Then
It’s yard work, laundry, and now, he’s in the car
And off for groceries. He says: It’s not far.
Never at night. He says: Don’t worry. I spend
My time carefully. He says: I won’t be wired
Again to that pulsing screen, that urine bag.
That’s your nightmare, too. Forget it. That sag
In the last ridge, seaward. See it? That’s where
I’ll be when that sharp flutter comes again.
He says: Let’s walk. Bring your jacket. I smell rain.
And we still walk, though not really together,
Not to that last ridge where he stands and shows
Me the sea. He's more like a shadow now,
Thrown from behind, each year getting longer.
And is it his—gaunt, stooping, with a pot
Belly—or is it mine? Harder to tell
Each year. Harder to break the growing spell
I thought I'd broken years ago. Not
That I'm becoming him. I know better.
Though sometimes it's him I see while shaving,
And I hear his rasp in my own talking.
Time’s made us distant and brought us closer.
He’s with me even when he’s not along.
He’s passed on now, but still he’s going strong.
(published by Into the Teeth of the Wind)