a poem in honor of my father for the week of his 71st birthday

There is a lot they didn't tell us upon arrival.

This mutual coming-to-terms with such truths...

...what do we call 'that'?


There is a lot you couldn't teach me along the way

because no one was there to teach you.

No one to initiate us into the oldest language there is.

No one to point at the gifts and measures and lacerations of a given moment,

and then to say: You need to remember this. This is shaping your future self.

No one to ask the great question of all starting quests:

How is it with your soul before you begin this new chapter?


There is a lot they didn't tell us upon arrival.

There is a lot we didn't learn along the way

that could've saved time, and pain, and other people's pain;

how the maps and paths and compass-checks,

how the tannin-dark water turning in on itself,

were all whispers of future terrains

we would come to know intimately from the inside-out.


Yet, when I really uncoil this feathered soul

and send it back to when we were most 'in our element',

there were river-paddles in our hands.


We were charting something, even then.


We glided along the river in pure synchrony.

We ducked low under branches.

We drank in the sun

and counted long-forgotten snake skins left on the mossy banks.

How could we know the shedding of skins were part of River's prophecy to us then?

How could we know we would become cartographers

of the backwaters of the infinite within?



(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com

image: "The Flounderers" by James McConnell Anderson of Shearwater Pottery

To learn more about the music of Roy Mattson, visit his Bandcamp page.

This poem appears in The School of Soft-Attention, now available for order from Homebound Publications or Amazon.com