Distance Between Us, poem by Peggy Ann Tartt

    Beyond the lake, morning begins to form.
    Although everything seems possible,
    My father sits quietly in the parked car

    Staring out at the clarity of the dawn sky.
    His face is obscured by the swirls
    Of sweet-smelling cigar smoke

    And the years of distance between us.
    He is wishing, I suppose, that the car was a rowboat,
    That I was one of his fishing buddies

    And that the day was not Father’s Day
    But a regular Sunday, any old Sunday,
    Which I would usually spend with others.

    It is too late for him to teach me
    How to listen to the earth, how to distinguish
    A robin’s song from a finch’s or from my own voice

    In its small attempt at expression,
    Not unlike that of the mourning dove’s
    Starting low in the throat and not climbing much higher.

    My father whose eyes narrow in the sun
    Teaches me how to widen spaces with silence
    And how to burn bridges without fire.

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