Today's poem is by Richard Lyons

Studies for a Portrait of a Father and Son

after a painting by Francis Bacon

I was about to say, in rain like this, the boy Moses
didn't have a chance, his oversized reed basket
swept by headstrong currents. I was about to say this view,
dampened by wind, is not a view at all and so is mine, nearly mine.

You entered the world the way one's eye chasing pick-up sticks
adds itself, an eye among pick-up sticks, a surreal marsala,
the way a father, before us, adds himself to what isn't there,
especially on nights like these when moves course with sound.

I had to give you up so you wouldn't be cursed with a father,
wouldn't follow the arc of the sun
by following the trajectory of a ball over the horizon,
wouldn't follow me everywhere like the one-eyed baby chick
imprinted on its cocky rooster fop of a dad.

Scientists have proven the eye sees in holes,
cerebral flashes of sun—we make up a field of vision from these
by saddening them into fields, rock walls
that can't stop the vetch. Of the Russian heath,
Kafka wrote in his notebooks: Nothing can represent it.
I remove my glasses, and pinch the bridge of my nose,
looking up from reading and why I do it.

The widow next door runs to get her bedding off the line.
The wind stirs her roses. The pink eyelashes of her mimosa
dip below the branches and come up gone,
the way the billowing white sheets fill with everything,
a splash of wind at the elbow, all the lessons wiped clean
so that, later, the sample idiot
can copy the tautology of discipline I won't I will never.

You entered the world a body of water, a larger music.
I give you nothing, the great nothing Pascal called the first happiness.
Picture this: he drew angles and vectors at a large pocked table
next to the only window cut on the world, and the world,
his field of vision, was one hard blue, a fabric.

Even if what I'm writing takes everything out of me,
I will keep it burning, even if it's just ink etched on paper,
even if paper burns quicker and more uselessly than pine straw,
the kind a father might ignite as kindling against stone.
I'm pushing a rocking wand against the side of a cradle,
whether there's a boy-child inside or not,
whether the cradleboat crests the open sea.

Copyright © 2007 Richard Lyons All rights reserved
from Cimarron Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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