ALL OF MY FATHERS
for Robert Bly, 1926–2021
All of my fathers are dead now.
If I have any further questions
there is no one to ask, no one
whose answer might matter to me.
But then it was you who taught me
that the deader a father is, the more
he lives inside us, and the more urgent
it becomes to build a room for him
in the house of the psyche,
lest we be ruled unknowingly by a monster
chained and howling in the basement
or a madman hiding in the attic,
eating dead spiders and dust.
Thanks to you, I built such a room
for my earthly father, and so reclaimed
the life and light and joy
he had stolen from his seven children.
Only then was I able to follow you
and all of my real fathers
through the open door in the soul
to the beauty of the word.
From you I also learned that the good father
contains a mother made of earth
and air and fire and water,
but that’s a story for another day,
perhaps another life. Right now I need
to revisit the room I built for you,
the one lined with books and lit
by a single round window facing the sun
and looking out on new snow and silence.
—from Poets Respond
December 7, 2021
Kurt Luchs: “It would be impossible to overstate Robert Bly’s influence as a poet, translator, critic, anthologist, antiwar activist and founder of the men’s movement. His effect on my life and my writing was equally profound. At the age of 14 I encountered his essay ‘A Wrong Turning in American Poetry’ in the magazine Choice. That and his wonderful first book, Silence in the Snowy Fields, did much to shape my views on poetry and my growing desire to write it. I continued to look on him as one of my real fathers, and still do and always will.” (web)