A Length of Rope – For my Father – August 27, 2013

Posted: August 27, 2013 in Samples of My Writing, Writing Posts

A poem to honor what would have been my father’s 93rd birthday.

My Dad on Smith Farm 1940sFour of us in River Hills 1957

From Time Lapse (Black Moss Press 2012). A Kindle version of my book Higher Ground is available at Amazon.

A slightly earlier draft is here:

A Length of Rope

It started to rain
lightly at first
then a downpour
my father put his hand on my shoulder
and said I’m right behind you
it was a good mile from lake to house

I was 12
my father 43
my brother ahead of us
moved branches out of the way

Wet and shivering
we walked through bush thick with mosquitoes
I held onto the same length of rope
my father and brother held
so we would not separate and get lost

My father said
Boys at one point
but nothing else
when the faint light from the house came into view
my brother let go of the rope
charged ahead and
waited shivering on the porch

That was before the house burned and we moved away for good
that night in the rain
holding that length of rope
we were sea creatures suddenly making land
disoriented and unsure of our footing
near the house my father said
Time for a cigarette
but waited until inside

The rain flattened his hair
against his scalp and turned it darker
so he looked years younger
he chucked the rope in a corner of the porch
and said let’s eat boys
holding up a string of pickerel
one fish stronger than the rest flicked its tail

The damp, glistening rope lay bunched in the corner
my mother had convinced him to take it
in case it rained
she came out then with towels
took the fish from my father
the air smelled of wet cotton.


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