Ross Gay

How To Fall in Love With Your Father

Put your hands beneath his armpits, bend your knees,
wait for the clasp of his thinning arms; the best lock
cheek to cheek. Move slow. Do not, right now,
recall the shapes he traced yesterday
on your back, moments before being wheeled to surgery.
Do not pretend the anxious calligraphy of touch
was sign beyond some unspeakable animal stammer. Do not
go back further into the landscape of silence you both
tended, with body and breath, until it nearly obscured all
but the genetic gravity between you.
And do not imagine wind now blowing that landscape
into a river which spills into a sea. Because it doesn’t.
That’s not this love poem. In this love poem
the son trains himself on the task at hand,
which is simple, which is, finally, the only task
he has ever had, which is lifting
the father to his feet.

Ross Gay
Poem, copyright © 2005 by Ross Gay
Appearing on From the Fishouse with permission
Audio file, copyright © 2005, From the Fishouse