When my father was close

to death, we were stripped

of our history. I sat by his bed,

holding the ancient, twig-like

hand of a ninety-three-year-old

who, though absent for years,

was mythic to me.

As he lay there, under the weight

of a stroke, life undressed the myth

I put on him and he was just a frail

old man who had introduced me

to the sea, who had loved wood

into marvelous shapes, who sur-

rounded himself with books

though he was a slow reader.

After a lifetime of holding back,

he wanted to speak, though he

couldn’t. And I understood

him completely.

A Question to Walk With: Describe someone important in your life and how your sense of them has shifted over the years.

This excerpt is from my book of poems, The Tone in the Center of the Bell.