Autumn Sky Poetry . . . Number 22 . . .
 

1926-1999

     by Kelley White



My Father at Ten


Has a big brother

They camp

They learn to tie knots

They have a loyal dog

They want to learn to fly



My Father at Twenty


Is a veteran

There is gray in his beard

He has forgotten boy scout

Knots

He is not a man

Though he looks like one



My Father at Thirty


Has me

I am a small baby

Loud

He holds me like I am a piece of ice

Melting

Slipping

Through his skilled

hands



My Father at Forty


Needs the sound

Of running water

Of wind in birch leaves

He flees

A house of argument

I follow

To the edge of the yard



My Father at Fifty


Fit

Tan

Lean

A tennis racket held steady

Before his knees

His hair went white

When?

And when did his legs start to hurt?



My Father at Sixty


Is sick

He cannot take his grandchildren fishing

He cannot sail his little boat

He cannot hike or camp or run

His hair is white and thick

We call him Grandfather



My Father at Seventy


Keeps the shades drawn

He watches tennis matches

From one side of the couch

In the dark

His cat

Sits beside him

Sometimes he remembers

Her purr



My Mother at Eighty


Alone

Even the cat has died










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Pediatrician Kelley White worked in inner-city Philadelphia and now works in rural New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in journals including Exquisite Corpse, Rattle, and JAMA. Her most recent books are Toxic Environment (Boston Poet Press) and Two Birds in Flame (Beech River Books.) She received a 2008 PCA grant.


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© 2011 Kelley White