A Father, a Son
I — an atomic collection culled from a universe of green stamps and cathode ray tubes
You — atoms collected from a different universe of ration books and radios — go first.
Before me, you were.
Because of you, I am.
You made me, a son.
And I made you a father, but
who is this ladder I must climb?
A Priam, who could only love out loud when his son, Hector, died?Joseph of Bethlehem, who had no son of his own?
Maybe Luke’s father, a cripple who believed he should cripple his son?
Or Calvin T. Underwood, whose son would become president and piss on his gravestone?
Some fathers are like that.
How few are as lucky Telemachus, whose father chooses him to fight for the honor of their house?
Is this the secret that we share? To weave our love through time and longing? To be, at last, chosen?
Are all fathers like Odysseus to young hungry sons? Absent and traveling?
Never home, homeward bound?
But in this telling, we are the travelers:
hurtling through time
urgent as spring cataracts
slamming the rock.
Fathers and sons must travel great distances to meet as equals —
it is our great romance.
But the ladder is a lie:
The boy becomes a man as the man grows old.
In some long-forgotten sedimentary layer of myself, a cast-off chrysalis, you were the world I crawled, toddled and ran to.
You were the man whose long strides I stretched to match.
The women have their fairy tales of handsome princes.
We have heroes: G.I. Joe, Batman and you —
to test the water in the tub.
Meg McGuire is the wife of AMR contributor Christopher Mele.
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