My Father’s Hand



Dark man of the shadows watching your child grow,
hiding your face beyond my childhood’s reach
or from a distance through your brother’s eye,
nothing can justify your negligence.
Dumb gaze of watcher, eye behind a wall,
what was your pleasure then, what held you still?
You could have moved a stride, held out your hand,
stepped from the shadows, muffled your cold pride.

Less than two years old when you deserted us,
I never knew you, never held your hand,
another’s children ran to your embrace
innocent thieves clambering your knee:
but I had your blood in me, and music too
flying through my veins as strong as yours,
had your look perhaps, a dreadful prize
to flaunt before a mother’s resentfulness.

Just once when I met you, hoping for explanations,
age had drained the fire from your limbs,
you gave no answers – there was a void
into which you dared not look again.
Just an old man by the fireside talking fondly
of long childhood days spent with your father –
as if I had been dead these forty years –
blind to the burning tears where my heart bled.

Dark child of the shadows, watching your coffin
sliding into flame, searing inside with the rage
of sorrow’s blackened fuel; you could have said …
you could have said that bitterness would be so cruel.


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