One hundred and eighteen of our finest American poets pay eloquent homage to their fathers and the broader concept of fatherhood in this loving anthology.
In this splendid collection both daughters and sons introduce us and pay heartfelt tribute to their fathers. Whether writing of fathers who were heroes or anti-heros, defenders or pacifists, those who went away suddenly or those who reappeared after a long period of time, the poets here cast the net wide to harvest the infinite variety of the father-and-child relationship. This moving anthology includes:
Raymond Carver's "The Trestle", Gwendolyn Brooks's "In Honor of David Anderson Brooks, My Father", Rita Dove's "Grape Sherbert", Robert Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays", Donald Justice's "Men at Forty", Hayden Carruth's "Words for My Daughter from the Asylum", Maxine Kumin's "My Father's Neckties", "Robert Bly's "My Father at Eighty-Fiver," Marjorie Maddox's "Old Tunes."
Oh where have you been, Billy boy, Billy boy?
I have been to seek a wife; she's the joy of my life. . . .
When the road dipped deep
and sky took over the car,
plastering each side of the family 'wagon
with southern Ohio,
and my father's broad grin
caught on the towns of Chillicothe and Portsmouth
while they sucked us in with their steel-mill smoke stacks,
small-town diners, and steeples slanted enough to let
the sun roll down and into the notes
that cluttered the front seat,
we three kids leaned and shoved and grabbed
at my father's songs to make them ours.
Bubbling "Down by the Old Mill Stream,"
we stopped to peel our socks,
wave them at passing trucks,
small prophecies of our victory
as we took the first steps
into the icy wet of his childhood
creek, not once letting go
of the wide hope
of his arm.
my great aunt's pastry stuck
at the lowest parts of our stomachs,
an awful weight,
we spit out "'Neath the Crust of the Old Apple Pie"
and other melodic jokes
strung on the shaky chords
of my father's voice
from dance halls, summer camps, nights in the navy,
where he dreamed of the slow step
and fingers, smooth as a seductive dance,
that he'd finally find
years later on my mother.
Who was why,
those weeks in the car,
he bellowed and beamed
and zigzagged us into the summers
that smelled and tasted of song:
boogie woogie and be bop, but mostly the cool blue
of Sinatra and Gershwin,
his one hand gliding across the wheel
the other, over and over throughout our lives,
tapping his syncopated love notes
on the open heart of her palm.