22 June 2010

Voices and Soul

22 June 2010

by Justice Putnam
Black Kos, Tuesday's Chile Poetry Editor

With Father's Day just past, I want to pay homage to fathers old, current and new; I want to pay homage to the fathers who are there every day and the fathers who can't be.

I asked my dad, in a more maudlin time just after the birth of my own son almost thirty-three years ago, how I could be a better son?

"By being a good father," he said simply.

When my grandson was four, I wrote the following that has been published a few times in the intervening years. A simple suggestion from a father to a son. Because a father will always wonder if he's done enough; he will always wonder if his mark was for good or ill; and if he is truly the contemplative sort, he will also wonder if there is ever a balance...

On Poetry and Fathers


Justice Putnam

The one thing
That always amazed me

Even from the
Earliest moment
Of your life

Was the utter trust
You had in me

And I was struck
At the time
By the amount
Of doubt

I had in myself.

Even though
Your mother and I
Had half a year
To practice breathing

I doubted that
I could remember
Properly when to
Encourage the right

And when the doctor
Said I could assist
And I finally held

Gray and small

I thought to that
Distant day
When you would

Hold your own son
In the same way

And I thought of
The resolve you would

Just as I had

To love
Like no other
Father has loved.

So the years pass

And I doubt
You felt the
Prayer of love

Over that distance
And separation
You grew in.

A correspondence
Is a poor substitute
For a kiss

Yet each word
Was a universe
Of touch

I doubt it
Was enough.

I cannot now

For all that you
Went through

I wish it were

But mere words
And sentiment

Are hollow.

You are now
A father

Kiss your son
While you can


Has a way
Of intruding
Upon the best
Of plans

And apologies

Become terrible

© 2004 by Justice Putnam
and Mechanisches-Strophe Verlagswesen

(Avocado Orchard, Irvine California / copyright Justice Putnam)

No comments: