Listening RoomThe Poet Speaks




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.

Poet’s Commentary:

“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.

Recommended Reads