Home > Issues > PRISM 49.4 SUMMER 2011 > My Father in his garden, depicted in the woodblock print of the Taishō dynasty

by Pamela Porter

For the wooden latch of his heart
that keeps falling open, for the ten thousand thoughts
that turn on the hinges of his mind,

for the shape of him, stranded in the weathered branches
of his bones, for the dark rooted laces of his shoes,
for his fingernails lined with dirt
arched as bridges over the stream,

for his shovels and rakes, for the mudded leather
of his gloves, for leaves
floating on the pond, and bare trees on sky,

for the creaking ship of him, the mainsail of his shirt,
his silvered hair wind-tossed,
his frame tied still to its moorings
this side of darkness,

for the charting of the seasons, compass of immeasurable stars,
the rising and falling of light as of the tide,
and the itinerant clouds mirrored in his eyes,

for the harvest, abundance of petals falling as rain,
for rain on stone, for small
belled flowers rung by the wind,

for his sparrows, common as moss, for the feeders
he fills at dawn,
for the casting forth, the drawing back of heaven
at the gate of his heart,

for webs spun and broken, caught
on the embroidery of air, whose delicacy of lace
he guards, he keeps watch,

for rain on the still waters of his pond, the darting fish,
sun’s absence and its breaking forth
as one suddenly emboldened to praise the world

for the small silver music of his voice,
the name of the unnameable etched in his face,
for the pondering silence of moon
hanging over the holiness of his sleep,
for the twin divinities of his nostrils,
the centuries of day and of night,

for letters written and unwritten from the brief, sacred
season, the singular blossom of a man’s life,

for the signature in a corner of the composition,
the quiet characters of a name.