“The Father Speaking Through My Son” by Taylor Mali

Taylor Mali


for A.M.

My toddler son looks up at me and says,
as I have many times to him, You are my son!
His palm pressed against his chest to show
his sincerity—again, I guess, just like me.

No, you are my son, I say as I scoop him up
and lay him gently on his bed. He frowns,
and something in how he cocks his head says
he’s thinking, But that’s exactly what I said!

I give him a kiss and consider, while turning out
the light, how he might be right and his words true.
As if by some magic, at least for tonight,
the father speaking through my son is you.

from Rattle #61, Fall 2018


Taylor Mali: “This poem comes from the manuscript of my forthcoming book, which is filled with poems about becoming a father relatively late in life—I was almost 50 when my son was born—as well as poems about my own dad who has been gone for almost 30 years. Occasionally my father and son appear in the same poem, as they do in this one.” (web)

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