Monday, December 26, 2011

After His Witnessing an Argument with My Father

(for Geoffrey Glen)

I tell my son there are things
one should never say, hurtful words,
like liar and cheat.

The heart holds whatever it hears
for a long time,
I say.
The tongue is the mind’s fist.

I want to find the right words
to make a difference
for the wrong ones,

if recovering from them is possible,
to tell him some things about my heart
I have never said to anyone.

I can tell him what it felt like
to carry his grandmother
down the stairs after she died,

how once while sitting by her bedside
I was punched into silence
as I watched her sip

from an imaginary teacup,
how each day is an act of forgiveness,
and that the mind will know

only what it has learned
but is last to discover
what the heart has known forever.

But I know this talk is for me.
Metaphor bleeds through the words
while he stares out the passenger’s window.

(1992)

“After His Witnessing an Argument...” was originally published in Poet & Critic.

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