Friday, June 16, 2006

Father, You Are Ancient

Ok, this is a self-promotional post, but it's Father's Day weekend, so I think I deserve it.

One of my crowning achievements at this stage in my life, aside from two beautiful daughters who will no doubt make me miserable when they are teenagers, is the fact that I had a run in the 1990s of publishing my poetry in multiple small magazines across this great land of ours.

The nicest and most lasting of these items is the publication of one of my poems in an anthology entitled Essential Love: Poems About Mothers and Fathers, Daughters and Sons.

Click on the title to purchase it from, if you so desire.

Not only is one of my poems in this anthology, but it is in some nice company. My poem, "Father, You Are Ancient," is just a few pages from the great poet Galway Kinnell's phenomenal and much-anthologized piece, "After Making Love We Hear Footsteps," which you can read here or you can listen to Kinnell reading here.

There are also works by Sharon Olds, Lyn Lifshin, Maxine Kumin, Li-Young Lee, and Naomi Shihab Nye.

In fact, in November 2002, when Shihab Nye was at a Barnes & Noble event with several other writers who were nominated for National Book Awards that year, I asked her to sign my copy of Essential Love.

She said she would, and when I mentioned to her that one of my own poems was in the book, she asked which one. When I told her, her eyes opened wide and she gushed, "Oh, I love that poem! I use it in my classes all the time." She signed the page on which her poem "What is Supposed to Happen" appeared and inscribed: "for Bill Cohen, in honor of your work - Thank you for your voice and kindness!" That was one of my most proud moments as a poet, and it took me a little bit of time to recover my power of speech.

So, in honor of Father's Day, I present to you one of my very best, written for my eldest daughter Jolee, when she was less than a year old. I would recommend buying the anthology through Amazon. It's a nice little book, and you can get it cheap through some of their used book subsidiaries.


Father, you are ancient,
grinning your goofy smile.
One hundred and sixteen times
my age, you are today; yes,
I cannot help but smile
when you make those funny,
complicated sounds.
I wave my tiny arms
and feel your joy
splashing onto me,
your warm breath on my cheeks
and your gentle caress
making my bright eyes brighter.

Father, you are ancient.
I will forget this moment,
only because I cannot help it,
but please, retell it to me
when I am able to remember,
so that I can be reminded
that you loved me always,
Father, ancient
and never more alive.

© 2000, Grayson Books
Enjoy Dad's Day everyone!

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