With neither language nor a cry, you made me your father
The day you were born in a kiddie pool in our living room, and
You slid, calm as silver, beneath the surface of the water.

And they were green the way green trees bend toward the river,
Your mother, sister, the women around us crying out, reaching, as
With neither language nor a cry, you made me your father.

If I revere you here, it is a warning against my size, so revere
You I will: I whispered, Like a god of your face that flattened moment
You slid, calm as silver, beneath the surface of the water.

Then you did not know what you did not breathe was air,
For you were made full in a place without questions.
With neither language nor a cry, you made me your father.

And when they lay your blood across my scissors,
I swung the hinge on the door between your last life and this where
You slid, calm as silver, beneath the surface of the water.

You sit under the wind of this dry country like a settler,
in a chair made just your size in the room where you were born.
With neither language nor a cry, you made me your father.
You slid, calm as silver, beneath the surface of the water.
for Keeghan

<RH — This one is also in Worthy of His Fall. It’s one of the few “high form” poems I’ve written, though it doesn’t follow the traditional single-syllable end rhyme tradition (if that’s what it is) of the villanelle. John Barton published it in The Malahat Review because he thought it subverted the form. I don’t actually read too much from Worthy, but this is one I read a lot. I love the memory it brings back for me. And it made me appreciate how much work of a unique kind these sorts of formal poems are.>
© Richard Harrison

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