This April Day
I just finished reading this wonderful book of poems by Judson Mitcham, which destroyed me. I've got snot coming out of my ears, to steal from my friend Dianna. This particular poem resonates with me, speaks--again--to the sad affects of our patriarchal culture that discourages men from expressing their feelings.
Here we have: One father dying, one son witnessing, and both with so much left unsaid.
We were ordinary men,
unable to embrace each other fully—
to bury a face in the other man’s neck,
to rock like drunks in the doorway, saying
goodbye. It was always a handshake
and maybe that sideways hug,
with an arm around the shoulders.
In the hospital
you couldn’t understand, didn’t know me,
tried to overturn the rack by the bed, tear
the needles from your arm; searched everywhere,
underneath the sheets and the pillow,
for your clothes, going home; grew frightened
when confused by the purpose of a spoon, angry
when you couldn’t even urinate—failing
to hit the plastic bottle, till I held you.
If I leaned down close
when baffled agitation started up,
and I smoothed back your hair, or I kissed you
on the forehead or cheek, whispered, “Daddy,”
you’d throw your arms around me.
There’s a way a man turns to a woman,
so his lips just barely graze hers, yet in this,
there is everything that follows, each detail
of forgetting where they are.
And today I am trembling with desire, wild
for the years, when my lips feel yours, cool
as gold. One kiss for the infinite
particulars of love, to tell you this:
I will be there with you, in the darkness.