Autumn Sky Poetry . . . Number 22 . . .


     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


He is not a man

Though he looks like one

My Father at Thirty

Has me

I am a small baby


He holds me like I am a piece of ice



Through his skilled


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




A tennis racket held steady

Before his knees

His hair went white


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


Even the cat has died


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.


© 2011 Kelley White