Father, 1917

I find your face in the sepia image
sitting in the front row, far right, your white shirt
cuffed at the wrist, complete with a borrowed tie,
hands obediently resting on your gray knickers
gathered at the top of your knee-length socks,
thick brown leather shoes,
your light brown hair parted from left to right.

Do your dreams portend the heartaches that lie in wait for you:
a home with thirteen children; scarcity of food; poverty of affection;
a younger brother and sister succumbing to the flu epidemic;
a hard-hearted father; an exhausted mother;
your lifelong struggle with depression and alcoholism.

I want to reach into the picture to touch your expressionless face
and wrap my arms around your small body to protect you
from the pain that will haunt your life.

I cannot rescue you from the darkness that awaits
or prevent my living under the shadow of your despair.

After closing his practice of 35 years in 2011 as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and with the publication of his first collection of poems, “A Heart on Fire, Poems from the Flames,” in 2014, David C. Weiss has been devoted to writing poetry and leading workshops for new poets. He is on the faculty of OLLI College at the University of Southern Maine and a visiting instructor of poetry at Sera Jhy Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in South India. David plays the “shakuhachi,” a Japanese end-blown bamboo flute used by monks of the “Fuke” school of Zen Buddhism in the practice of “suizen” (blowing meditation). He earned his Master of Theology and Ph.D. in Pastoral Psychology degrees from Boston University. You can follow David on his website.

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