“…clay I felt my father fumble”

I was just sorting some photographs taken a month ago, in Ottawa. There was a moment in late afternoon, in Forrest and Manon’s back garden, when I was sitting on their deck and looked over to see my sons holding their babies above them.

their babies.jpg

And looking at the photograph a few minutes ago, I heard so clearly a few lines from one of John’s poems, in which he meditates briefly on fatherhood in the larger context of house-building.

                       …the deck
I built in a blur but sit on

with a view — definite trees– an acreage
to be landscaped — orchard to complement
woodlot. I’ll work it for years. For my sons

I’ve apprehensions, don’t care
for legacy, paternal imposition, clay
I felt my father fumble handling me.

But I build, deep-bearing
in fluid bonds gone concrete
a southwest exposure.
I live in it for love…

                          —John Pass, “Days in the Dark of Building”, from Forecast: Selected Early Poems (1970-1990) (Harbour Publishing, 2015)

It’s always been one of my favourite poems, one I’ve heard at public readings many times but without the sense that one day it would mean something more. That the sons would hold their own children — a son, a daughter — aloft with their strong hands. Tomorrow is Fathers Day. The sons are far away, the father will be celebrated with barbequed steak and good red wine, and the concrete still supports the house we live in for love, after all these years.

Advertisements

~ by theresakishkan on June 18, 2016.

5 Responses to ““…clay I felt my father fumble””

  1. Lovely photo, Theresa. Do both your sons live in Ottawa? So far from you?

  2. Beautiful poem, photo, thoughts, Theresa. Happy Father’s Day to you all.

    • There are some stanza breaks there, Beth, which I can’t seem to get the formatting to hold. (Not a techie, obviously.) But the whole poem is one of my favourites. Last two lines: “the boys’ miraculous breathing/after dark.” A miracle then. Still is.

  3. Thanks, Juliet! The older son lives in Ottawa but sometimes when we’re visiting him, his younger brother and family — they live in Edmonton — are able to come too. And sometimes our daughter (who lives in Victoria) joins us too. And yes, they’re all very far away. That’s Canada for you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: