Stanley Kunitz: “Father and Son”

FATHER AND SON

Now in the suburbs and the falling light
I followed him, and now down sandy road
Whiter than bone-dust, through the sweet
Curdle of fields, where the plums
Dropped with their load of ripeness, one by one.
Mile after mile I followed, with skimming feet,
After the secret master of my blood,
Him, steeped in the odor of ponds, whose indomitable love
Kept me in chains. Strode years; stretched into bird;
Raced through the sleeping country where I was young,
The silence unrolling before me as I came,
The night nailed like an orange to my brow.

How should I tell him my fable and the fears,
How bridge the chasm in a casual tone,
Saying, “The house, the stucco one you built,
We lost. Sister married and went from home,
And nothing comes back, it’s strange, from where she goes.
I lived on a hill that had too many rooms;
Light we could make, but not enough of warmth,
And when the light failed, I climbed under the hill.
The papers are delivered every day;
I am alone and never shed a tear.”

At the water’s edge, where the smothering ferns lifted
Their arms, “Father!” I cried, “Return! You know
The way. I’ll wipe the mudstains from your clothes;
No trace, I promise, will remain. Instruct
Your son, whirling between two wars,
In the Gemara of your gentleness,
For I would be a child to those who mourn
And brother to the foundlings of the field
And friend of innocence and all bright eyes.
0 teach me how to work and keep me kind.”

Among the turtles and the lilies he turned to me
The white ignorant hollow of his face.

Stanley Kunitz

Photo: based on detail in Hand with shadows, father and daughter by Ctd 2005

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~ by matt on 15 June 2008.

One Response to “Stanley Kunitz: “Father and Son””

  1. […] Stanley Kunitz: “Father and Son” « golempoemStanley Kunitz: “Father and Son”. Posted by matt on 15 June 2008. FATHER AND SON. Now in the suburbs and the falling light. I followed him, and now down … […]

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Natalie E. Illum...

is a poet, performer and disability activist. Bring her stumbling to your city.

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