Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mortal Fathers

In the gorge of Twenty Mile Creek
firs slouched of midnight snow,
entombed like the ancient dead
where my brother and I heaved
our skinny legs into the blue trough
of his striding

Stranger in a red mackinaw,
his rifle shoulder slung
and plumb to the world,
the mystery of whiskered men
spitting a shine into the grip
of walnut checkering,
something seductive glinting there

A father remote and reticent,
sworn to the reproach of surly mouths
turned to us when the shrill and chatter
gave up our place in the woods,
stopped to strike a match
against his jutting chin and said,
fucking squirrels, then lit his cigar
and watched us giggle and squirm
sucking up his sweet smoke

I wondered how a word
could diminish our fear of him
and replace it with adoration,
ominipotence undone,
a mere human after all,
just a man, not so perfect,
not so stiff and absolute,
a man brought to distraction
by small beasts

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