Time Out of Joint, 1978 (poem)

I write a lot about my father, whom I haven’t laid eyes on, or heard from, in nearly forty years. I assume he’s still alive, but only God knows what he’s doing.

I took part in a writing workshop today, and the following poem is the best of the work I produced. It’s already been through a few drafts (and my undergo more), but I wanted to share it nonetheless:

Time Out of Joint, 1978

Your face is hidden
in shadow, but it should
be there in plain view–

the sun is keeping watch,
no clouds on the horizon
just us in your old truck,

the radio on Kenny Rogers,
your hands tight on the wheel,
even though we’re motionless.

It’s a dream, I realize, looking
at my small hands and discovering
they’re pink and brown seashells.

I raise them to my ears and hear
your voice instead of the sea,
but you’re not talking to me,

you’re not even here, but elsewhere:
Virginia, Nevada, and Alabama all
spring to mind, painting their possibilities

inside my hungry mouth that works
the opposite of how it should, closing
instead of opening, shutting on words.

Or maybe you’re finally back home,
in the cellar, a timid mouse afraid
of the cat that continues to stalk it.

I approach the stairs on burned paws
and peer with nightsight into the gloom.
It’s wonderful and terrifying in the dark,

the rhythm of the dust ringing in my ears,
a place to sniff out for a day or two, or
somewhere I could go to disappear forever.

father and son

Image courtesy of Flickr and the Creative Commons license

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