None of you know my father-in-law, and he’s a difficult guy to describe. Hard-working, decent, loyal…wonderful really. The thing that always struck me most about him though, was the silence. The gentleman is a man of few words, the sort of man where you sit down and ask him a twenty minute open-ended question full of detail and encouragement and he answers with “Could be so.” Coming from the sort of family that I do (we all talk all the time) I found this restraint perplexing, and took it as an absolute sign that he didn’t have much to say.
Then, out of the blue a couple of years ago I was absolutely stunned and agape to discover that he had been writing poetry. (It was a little like discovering that your local motorcycle gang is teaching pink tutu-esque ballet on Saturday afternoons. Not impossible, but unexpected in a way that smashes biases you didn’t know you had.) Not only was he (this man who didn’t talk) writing poetry, he was writing good poetry (which is excellent really, since you can only imagine how awkward family dinners would be if I had to spend the whole time reading craptastic poetry and searching for good things to say about it.) He’s been published a few times now, so I know that it’s not just my fondness for the man that makes me think it’s ok. Enjoy.
An excerpt from “Another Time (a pastoral)”
A walking wheel was stored in the dry room
under the stairs behind the kitchen stove,
the drive wheel had spokes and a bronze bushing
That rotated smoothly on a steel shaft,
a multiplying wheel turned the spindle
at high speed as grandmother pushed the spokes
She stood by the chaise, back to the window,
twisting and spinning the heavy coarse wool
into finely wrought yarn for mitts and socks
Over her shoulder green water glittered
but I was held by the whir of spindle
and eyes that glowed behind the spinning wheel
Red ochre was replaced with rich teak oil
Yet, the old wheel yearns for soft hands to toil.