for my father
All my life, and it’s been long enough now
That I flatter myself I’ve learned a little bit,
Touring your yard, I’ve seen you point to it—
Some tiny, fringed, bent sapling, I don’t know
How you spotted it among all the green,
Hidden and pale, no doubt soon to be overrun
If left to its own feeble devices. Instead, in
A casual moment, you have just now seen
Potential in a tangle where only suffocation loomed,
Just a moment’s thought, a trust in possibility,
And an old shovel, barely raised, lifted gently
And moved, to a sunnier or dryer slope, the doomed.
What glory in this green and thriving monument
To a steady faith that growth is the surest event.
The son of a Lutheran minister, Don’s journey could be described as a scribble in the Pacific Northwest and a straight line to Albuquerque, and then to Providence, as if someone were nudged but salvaged a checkmark. Like millions of English teachers, he writes poems in quiet, fugitive moments.
Photo is in the Pubic Domain.