Sunday, June 17, 2012

Two Poems for Father's Day

Limits of Spectacle Lake
--in memory of my father,
Walter James Clear, 1918-1966

When the sun had slipped behind the hills
I said, let’s go back. Forget this business
of lures and lines and casting so far
the eye could hardly follow the thread
out to snag a rainbow’s lip. Afraid
we’d lose our way and soon our boat
would spin and sink. There we’d sit
eye to eye with a million trout.

When I was eight I caught my limit.
But not before my father turned the boat
to shore and let out one last line for luck.
I held that rod for all the hope left
reeling in the churning depths.

I don’t know who was more the spectacle that night --
the lake, me, or my father gently guiding the pole
between my unbelieving hands. Somehow he trusted
in the end of all filtering light. When he died
the next winter, I remembered six fish
laid out stiff on a plank of wood.

Eye to eye with the dead, in the wake
of the boat, I learned the limits,
the last ripple of life in a dying fish.


Mark, I have to tell you:
the starlings returned
to nest in the eaves
where you neglected repair.
You never loved them,
yet last year waited to roust
the messy twig and mud jumble
until each fledgling soared
clear of gutter and roof.
Grumbling, glad to be done,
this was your unexpected gift
and I never thanked you.

Soon summer will spread its wing
over this unfinished house
where porches and railings
await the carpenter’s hammer and nail.
Our children — nearly men —
will desire to roam the city all night,
and I’ll let them go
one feather at a time,
always holding back
and then releasing, alone now
instructing in the mechanics of flight.

--in memory, Mark Benchley Anderson, 1956-2003

© T.Clear


  1. Both poems are heartbreaking. Too young to die. Too big of a loss to deal with on your own. I hope your poetry brings healing.

  2. ah, your men, T., your men. beautiful imagery in both poems. Seems hard to believe Mark has been gone since 2003...the passage of time is a strange thing indeed.


  3. Oh, T--what wonderful poems. Thank you so much for writing them--and sharing, especially "Regret."