I take him to the beach at sunset. It's a production, pulling his body from the front seat, half-carrying his legs across the rocks, finding a flat place to set his chair. Too late. By the time we are set, sun is gone and the last few layers of sky are about to burn out. When I was young I dreamed of taking him on trips, the two of us. He wore pressed pants. Me, a pigtail and safari hat. We crossed a wilderness where lakes breathe steam. We pitched our tent in a hollow of needles and talked about the war. What is it, son, just between the two of us, you want in life? He punched his jacket up, stuck it behind his neck and smiled. When I was young, I dreamed we arrived at the beach with never a word about the ugliness of circumstance and with plenty of time before sunset. The sky was glorious, and he could stand.
“This is another poem about fathers and sons and about mortality.”
*Reproduced with the permission of Jack Coulehan and with special permission of Nightshade Press: First Photographs of Heaven, 1994.