Tuesday Poem


Although he’s apparently the youngest (his little Rasta-beard is barely
down and feathers),
most casually connected (he hardly glances at the girl he’s with, though
she might be his wife),
half-sloshed (or more than half) on picnic-whiskey teen-aged father,
when his little son,
two or so, tumbles from the slide, hard enough to scare himself, hard
enough to make him cry,
really cry, not partly cry, not pretend the fright for what must be some
scarce attention,
but really let it out, let loudly be revealed the fear of having been so
close to real fear,
he, the father, knows just how quickly he should pick the child up, then
how firmly hold it,
fit its head into the muscled socket of his shoulder, rub its back, croon
and whisper to it,
and finally pull away a little, about a head’s length, looking, still concerned,
into its eyes,
then smiling, broadly, brightly, as though something has been shared,
something of importance,
not dreadful, or not very, not at least now that it’s past, but rather
something . . . funny,
funny, yes, it was funny, wasn’t it, to fall and cry like that, though one
certainly can understand,
we’ve all had glimpses of a premonition of the anguish out there, you’re
better now, though,
aren’t you, why don’t you go back and try again, I’ll watch you, maybe
have another drink,
yes, my son, my love, I’ll go back and be myself now: you go be the
person you are, too.

by C.K. Williams
from Selected Poems
Noonday Press, 1994