Ruminations on Fathers

There's a poem for every occasion, and the occasion at hand is Father's DayThough the 3rd Sunday in June is the most common day for Father's Day, it's not the only one.  In Australia, for example, Father's Day is the first Sunday in September.  In Russia, it's February.  My own Father lives in the US, and so I get to celebrate the June date, usually (almost always) by sending books for gifts.  My dad likes to read sci-fi, so this year he got Mieville's Railsea and Murakami's 1Q84.  Last year I wrote him a poem, as I often do, though the following one is a poem I wrote for another father figure in my life, my grandfather, who ran a boat yard for many years during my childhood. The now defunct boatyard is also pictured on the cover - the image that inspired the poem, taken by my uncle during a nostalgic visit back. The poem provides the title for (and is featured in) the poetry book Imagining the Future: Ruminations on Fathers and Other Masculine Apparitions which I co-wrote with Carolyn Howard-Johnson.

Fathers provide such a fertile source of inspiration (mother's too!) - so if you're looking for a reason to write a bit of poetry, perhaps some ruminations on dad might work. I've been writing poetry since I was a young girl, and I'm hoping that at least a few of those early poems are kept somewhere in a box of mementos, as indeed I keep my own children's poetry and handmade gifts.   Happy Father's Day to all you wonderful fathers out there.

Boat Yard

Walking the fuzzy line
between deference and defiance
a cold wind opens the door
you slide
into frictive fictive

Holding onto your absent body
too tightly
I find something
a heart once broken
beneath my own chest.

The snarl of your lip
against kindness in your eyes
how odd to find you
still supportive
so many years after you disappeared.

Snow covers everything
not enough for fairytale glitter
just desolate dust
darkening teal on the horizon
and water
always water
together we swim
through a remembered past
imagining the future.

Magdalena Ball runs The Compulsive Reader. She is the author of a number of books including Black Cow, Repulsion Thrust, Sleep Before Evening, and, in conjunction with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, the Celebration Series of poetry book of which Imagining the Future is a part.  Find out more at


Anne Duguid Knol said...

Thankyou, Maggie, for sharing such an unexpected juxtaposition of thoughts in this poem. It brought to mind memories l did not realize l had and helped me understand a rather forbidding grandfather of my own.
Such a lovely suggestion to write a poem for a father on Father's Day. I shall try.

Margaret Fieland said...

Maggie, thanks for the poem.

Karen Cioffi said...

Wonderful poem, Maggie. Thanks for sharing!

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

What a powerful poem. Thanks Maggie.

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