Michael Redhill in Light-crossing offers a suite of poems that reflect upon the reflective figure of the father.
while that roil of stars and darkeness
coalesced to you, who arrived, surprisingly.
Grey, wet, sweating nutrient, quick
to suck. Math-loving atoms, clenched into body,
assumed alikeness, which delights. I now hold
this infinitesimal, that gathered its forces across
vast nothing to be called to life.
This from “What Moves”. Note that the coalescence is not “in” but “to” — a destination with a hint of further destinations. Also note the being called to life. Again the stress is on a continuing voyage.
“Offering” is sacramental in tone but offers more.
I was alone with you after everyone was gone
and life was in you like a charge in a wire. Your poor
head in my hand, musketball heavy, your eyes roving
for purchase in the blue and grey room. They had you
in a tiny surplice, not knowing
they didn’t have to make you look holy, you were
already ministering to me.
The line breaks tremble. You can almost hear “power” in “poor” because of the “charge in the wire” and the break. It crackles.
The opening of “Star” captures the nuances of a repeating scene: “Is he sleeping? — our midnight / mantra, one of us walking / all stealth into the room.”
Lines that bring you in even if you have never experienced being the vigilant parent but have a faint memory of sleeping safely. There is more than just a trick of identification with the deployed pronoun “you” — there is a sense here of inscribing something for those not yet able to make their own memories, a sense of relatedness and human fragility.
And so for day 1999