The Agonist Journal

              for David Middleton, poet, mentor, friend

              “Blessed Mother, keep them pressed to your bosom as you did the child Jesus.”
                                          (petition upon the births of my sons, Aodhan and Matthias)

Exhausted from another day at work
And eager to unwind, I drop my coat
And books by the door, find the remote
Control and chair in which I plan to shirk

All thought and care for primetime’s numbing hours,
Then loosen my bowtie before dropping rump-
First into position. Fatigued, I slump
Forward slack-jawed, determined no power

On earth exists to wrench me from the task
At hand, excepting one—my youngest son
Whose eyes express there’s tending to be done.
His body language gives off signs he’ll ask

For me to read a poem to him again,
Then he kneels before me, begins to pray:
“The blood of her Son will heal you.” This day,
I know a father’s prayer was not in vain.

My oldest son soon stands beside my chair.
“You told me once you’re fond of Kierkegaard,”
He says. “I’ve just begun his Either/Or.
I’m hooked and thought you’d like to be aware.”

I’m proud of him, a young man now although
It seems that yesterday he sat atop
My shoulders begging me not to stop,
Requesting speed and not to walk so slow.

Divorce affirmed for me that they come first,
Revealing just how gratifying, once
The pain abated, life with my two sons
Could be—each call for drink when nightly thirst

Might wake them up, each sandwich made, or tub
Of water filled for baths, attended fear,
Each kiss goodnight or hug when they drew near,
Advice for which they’d ask, a boo-boo rubbed.

All sacramental acts a father makes
Imbued with Goodness, Truth, not mere duty,
Imbued indeed with his response to Beauty
When she becomes the lover that he takes.