Stephen Mead offers up a short, powerful piece on someone else’s father–a father who is as memorable as he is flawed.
Heart of purple,
heart on, up the sleeve
to be placed above your own heart,
the jean jacket pocket,
there against your menthol lights…
Johnny’s father was a teacher,
Johnny’s father, a husband,
a soldier, a fireman brave.
In the photo I find of him
he has a parakeet on his brow,
a crown of tweets soon whistling
for an Irish supper.
Johnny, no wonder
you find him mythical,
poignant, absurd, larger than life…
His soldier’s duds replaced by Sunday
suits, even dungarees with the cuffs
rolled wrong & his hair out of place,
he’s off to buy the paper, mow the lawn
& with one stone
knowingly embarrass you all.
he kept a kind smile for your disgrace
in the face
of his very mad wife, & still Johnny
you raised eight siblings even amid
your Mom’s raging bed & your Dad’s
knowing sadness leaving you to her disease.
In the photo of him, Johnny, I find your nose,
your gaze, your lips, with metamorphosis
all in place, for you fathered, mothered yourself
while your parents were rather busy.
Editor’s Note: Stephen Mead has published here before. Check out his wonderful “Man’s Hands.”
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Photo by Neil. Moralee /Flickr