Last night I had a 'moment.'
You know when you're talking with someone, and they say something that drops into some deep pool of your heart, sending reverberations through your soul? I’m sure there will be some poems to mine from this conversation. Here’s how it went:
I was answering some questions, explaining a bit about the background of Poems from the Boatyard--backstory, in creative lingo. What does the ‘boatyard’ refer to? What's this book about? How long did it take you to write it?
The simple answer is that Poems from the Boatyard is about growing up. But the real story, which I didn't realize until I had to write a short bio (no more than 50 words), was that it was about my father. Oh, he doesn’t appear in too many of the poems, but he’s there—that is to say, his influence, his imprint, his impact on my life.
And as I shared it all with the person asking me about the book, I told her how my father sold the boat to provide for our education. We talked for a while about that quintessential fatherly function: provider. Whether or not a father provides well for his family, which is usually taken to mean financially, remains a benchmark for good or bad fathering in our culture.
We then went on to discuss the marketing of the book, and how it worked, and how pleased I was that I could honor my uncle by using his artwork on the cover.
This dear person commented that I got to honor both my father and his brother with this chapbook, and could earn some much-needed shekels in the process. And then she dropped the stone into the well of my heart: "Your father's still providing, isn't he?"
As I mine my heart to explore that for the poems I'm sure it will bring, let me end with one poem that was written while driving in the car with my father, many years ago. The memory is still sweet, and captures three of my favorite aspects of time with Dad: art, a boat, and the sea. The blogger has erased the formatting, but you can get that in the chapbook...picture a sunset...
ALL THE SWANS
quietly into each
other’s company, watch
the sunset pour into the sea
a pink the sky cannot contain,
the artist cannot paint. Instead,
she paints the boats, kissing her
baby profusely between strokes.
Gulls squat on the stone bench
where we sip coffee. In the
salt marsh, a light blinks,
We ride home in silence, sweating, past all the swans.