“My Father’s Painting” by Bryan Walpert

Bryan Walpert


Three boats head east toward
the docks, another to sea,
two figures aboard,

as the sun brushes its dusky
violet on the wakes and trails,
my father’s signature a buoy

in the water. He hasn’t sailed
as long as I can remember, though
I heard him mention once a failed

attempt at the Cape, how the air grew
quiet then still as they floated
into night, waiting for a tow.

Not yet my mother or father,
their laughter must have turned to fear
as they slipped further and further

into dusk, their dock disappeared
from memory and lights began
blinking the same in the distance.

And what might they have said then
to one another, those two near
strangers, staring at a sun

halved by the far rim of earth,
knowing they were subject to the same
tide and stale air, the day’s breath

failing them, awkwardly framed
side by side in their skiff,
drifting out to sea like a name?

from Rattle #22, Winter 2004
Tribute to Poets Abroad


Bryan Walpert: “It began with a few poems at the office. I’d write one here or there, but soon entire afternoons passed while I played with language in a way that my job as a journalist wouldn’t permit. Out of an ethical sense of responsibility to my employers, I felt it only right that I should quit to focus on poetry full-time. Truly, I had only their interests at heart.”

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