“Have You Seen My Son” by Peter Nash

Peter Nash


Have you seen my son?
He is everywhere.
You have seen him
on the Metro stair,
at the Greyhound Station,
in the park beside the fountain,
you have seen my son.
His dark eyes stare,
his chicken hand,
his lanky hair,
the reddened nose,
the soiled vest,
the plastic bag of lettuce
pressed against his chest.

You have seen my son,
his lips, my son’s lips
flecked with spit,
pursed against a gush of words—
Fire and God,
War and Shit.

His Safeway cart filled with cans
rolls slowly towards The Center.
In The Center all is clear—
the offal of our lives is here
in neatly labeled bins: green glass,
brown glass, plastics. Endless trash.
He stands in line, they weigh his cans,
drop some quarters in his hands,
then lightly, lightly
he strides away
to buy a box of vin rosé.

Beside the fountain
in the park, my son sleeps.
Until the dark.

from Rattle #34, Winter 2010


Peter Nash: “After 30 years of practicing Family Medicine, I retired to a remote part of Northern California to wander along the river, occasionally help my wife in the garden, board horses, and write poetry. After a year of this I realized how much I missed the practice of medicine and found myself working part-time in two rural health clinics where I began to see a number of psychiatrically impaired patients. Getting to know these patients as people rather than shying away from them as ‘street people,’ I connected in a way I had never connected before. This poem, ‘Have You Seen My Son?,’ is a result.”

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