"My Father Going Away"

"My Father Going Away"

"My Father Going Away"

Arts has moved! You can find new stories here.
A weekly poem, read by the author.
June 22 2004 10:59 AM

"My Father Going Away"

Listen to Wesley McNair reading this poem. In a room far back in my mind with strangers, my father pressed the thick rim

of the glass to my mouth
burning my lips and throat,
then went back up

to where the laughter was.
My father was always
going away. "Where are you?"


I asked the tiny holes
in the phone my mother
handed me, unable to fit

his answer to my ear.
I spoke to my father
after he left us again

and again. Once, years
later, he was there,
wearing the odd, worn face

his real life had happened to,
and I, at the door of the present,
standing in the past. "I can't


hear you," I told him.
He was the slurred voice
that talked to itself

in a rental car while I
drove him through
the night to the city

where he would leave me
for the last time. Who were
the strangers that laughed

and drank with my father
in the house at the end
of the dark? All dead now,

and my father himself now dead,
but not before he twists
a twenty into my hand

next morning with his shaking
hand so hard I feel it
burning as I board the train.

Outside my father, going away,
is waving and shouting
something that makes him

start toward me, something
he has held back all this time
behind the glass.