By reader’s request, I am reposting this piece for Father’s Day.
This is another commissioned work, this time in connection with the Art and Craft of Writing Kickstarter. The poem includes numerous inside jokes, personal memories and details of family history provided by the client, a wife and mother wishing to honour her aging father (and from what she told me about him, he is more than worthy of such a gift), hence some of the curious asides and word choices. I hope that general readers will still find it enjoyable and uplifting.
Fathers That Know the Father
Fathers that know the Father are such a special breed,
Though success in their endeavours is far from guaranteed;
They are not granted super strength, immunity from harm,
Super speed, astounding wealth or overpowering charm;
What they do receive instead is far more precious still,
A spirit touched with grace and a calling to instil
A love of God and truth and life in his children’s souls,
That they may lift their heads to aim for high and worthy goals.
Even in his absence, his influence is strong,
His loved ones know they always have a home where they belong,
Where they are known and cared for, and greeted with a smile,
Hoping that that their current stay can stretch a little while.
Far from our shores, you harnessed mighty atoms in the deep,
Ensuring that ten million children could stay safe asleep.
The sacrifices that you made leave echoes in their wake,
Clearing noble paths for other, younger feet to take.
Discipline unasked for, and even fought outright,
Is now appreciated in a wholly different light.
Prayers and verses planted in a mind when it is young
Grow into fruitful wisdom that flows in its own tongue.
Standing at attention while my tidying was checked
Has led to strong self-discipline and stronger self-respect.
You drilled me to work hard, in all things seek to learn and grow,
Aim for excellence, but never bask in my own glow.
A leader and great teacher in every port you called,
You had so many ways to keep your students all enthralled
As you passed on knowledge that was more than just a hunch,
Such as the laws of thermo forbidding a free lunch.
I wish I’d been less stubborn and took the time to hear
The wonders of the universe that you so loved to share;
When you said your expectations of me were too high it hurt;
When you took it back and were proud of me, I thought my heart would burst.
A sweeping gift you gave me on the 8th year since my birth,
And we took turns adventuring all over Middle Earth.
So many books we’d share with joy, I even got some signed;
You always were so loving, so insightful and so kind.
A fluffball called Salami nuzzled past your stubborn gates,
Moved you in a way your heart could not anticipate;
And so when perched upon your leg in good old Morro Bay,
He became the furry lord of all that he surveyed.
Our stomachs stuffed with tacos, we’d waddle up the hill,
Half-regretting extra bites when we had had our fill,
Back home to talk, to laugh, to revel in our family life;
Moments I still treasure now as a mother and a wife.
Black Mountain’s view enchanted us each time we scaled its slope,
Guests were met with signal flags along the yard arm rope,
Grandparents teaching step-ball back at 512 South Clay,
A family determined to all walk the narrow way.
Your love of God infectious, your love of us so clear,
Each time you wrote us letters it would fill our hearts with cheer.
No one on this earth could ever hope to fill your shoes;
No one we would rather join us on a fun-filled cruise.
Because of you, our families walk and prosper in the light,
Gleaming like Alaskan gems of purest tanzanite.
Whether it is of the Apes or of the Caribbean,
All of us are certain you are worthy of this paean.
You showed us what a father is, what we should aim to be,
Reflected glints of glory that shine eternally,
Helped us in our crises, gave us strength to cope,
And led us to the One who is our everlasting hope.
You taught us to be humble, to never put on airs,
And of course, most importantly, to not forget our prayers.
For this and more we’re grateful, in more ways than you know;
So in this and other ways, we’d like to let it show.