Complexity

John Elsberg

1

My father was a sailor.


2

Nearly fifty years between us.


3

Images of his wandering life
suspended like ornaments.


4

Living room is green:
objects just as carefully ordered
as before.


5

Perhaps a generation
had been lost, some intermediate
father, who would throw a ball,
be at that median point,
a balance.


6

I would have told him
that love can keep the bonds
of trust intact despite
the changes, but that
would have violated his sense
of what must be shown more than said.


7

My father was a sailor.


8

In time the distance
that had grown between us
at least became clearer: compounded
of two stubborn wills
and his knowledge that his son,
his only son, was better
at books than with the tools on the wall.


9

The "stuff" of life,
the complexity of father and son,
the promise left
by a long walk on the beach,
talking about the ambiguities inherent
in a sense of self.


10

In grief there are always temptations.


11

"But this doesn't sound like a real poem."


12

Love as the hope
of some mutual resolution.
Loss as the absolute
removal of even the uncertainty
of its fulfillment.

13

My father was a sailor.

 

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