a boy in a cotton field
heavy with harvest
the steel of a shotgun
throbs in his hands

a college professor
in a city slum
history flows from the chalk
in his fingers

what ties these two
is you                        father
you left us both at different times

you deserted the adult in ‘sixty-four
who cried on his knees
remembering that boy:

the boy            the cotton field
the missed pheasant
the pinched look of disgust on your face

you left me then in the cotton field
a wounded bird among giant popcorns

whose abundance reflected your gift
            for the soil

and just when i thought i had you back
you deserted again

a browning automatic in a walnut case
is the only trace of you that remains
except for my guilt at imperfect vision
at hands that could not mend a
with a penny post-card and a
            length of string

(i studied hard to prove myself worthy
but it only set us further apart
what could you say to a son who
            stalked words
dismembered time            dissected philosophies
but had no stomach for the slaying
            of birds?)

my father the marvelous hunter
my father of the dead-eye vision
my father of the steady trigger-finger
and the gift for growing things

some things