This poem carries all of the ambivalence that we may have about fatherhood. It is not about losing the father, but finding him, perhaps, for some of us, within.
My friend, this body offers to carry us for nothing–as the ocean carries logs. So on some days the body wails with its great energy; it smashes up the boulders, lifting small crabs, that flow around the sides.
Someone knocks on the door. We do not have time to dress. He wants us to go with him through the blowing and rainy streets, to the dark house.
We will go there, the body says, and there find the father whom we have never met, who wandered out in a snowstorm the night we were born, and who then lost his memory, and has lived since longing for his child, whom he saw only once… while he worked as a shoemaker, as a cattle herder in Australia, as restaurant cook who painted at night.
When you light the lamp you will see him. He sits there behind the door… the eyebrows so heavy, the forehead so light… lonely in his whole body, waiting for you.
I was honored today, not only to observe fatherhood with others across the life cycle, but also to have public recognition by my own daughter. It was the best gift ever.