Reading Lesson

          appeared in kentucky poetry review, spring 1992 (bicentennial) issue

Ten yards ahead,
my father climbs
his ridge of flint and oak.
This hard, mean ground is his library:
in the track of animals I don't know,
the call of birds I can't name,
from distant rustlings and
a single bee's clumsy bumbling
at mountain laurel,
he reads and surmises
the color of a most certain reality.
When age gave me sense to know it,
I found his subtle gift:
a visceral belonging to this place,
so I might know the meaning of
And I do have hope,
that if I follow far enough,
diligently study my father's texts,
he may yet show me
that other, hidden hue.
photo: Dad on the tractor road

My favorite photo of my father was taken over twenty years ago, as we walked together through the woods on this place.  In the picture Pop's patiently trudging along, bareheaded up the tractor road, an autumn breeze pulling at his coat.  That will forever be my inner primary image of the man...

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