Standing in My Father’s Shadow

by David Watts

Early morning. Light rising from
its hiding places. The family
asleep in their dreams. I put on

the posture of my father
standing over the stove, humming softly,
shaping his wordless love

into scrambled eggs, and bacon, and the
fetching aroma of coffee. I am not
the man he was, yet the part we share I carry

in the breath I breathe, turning eggs, providing
what I can. My words, like his,
mouth-cupped in the cold silence of men. Fork

scraping the iron of the skillet, fingers
separating slices for the toaster,
gestures tossed like seed, some falling hard

on the roadsurface of passing days,
the germ of those futures a spark hollowed
into the deep bowl of darkness.

I have wearied myself searching
for my father in the unexpressed richness
when we played catch

on the university lawn, or we bent
over the last math problem, what that meant
never rising to the awkwardness

of words, our lives passing
through the days as if we could always
return to them, lifting them

out of the fading light. We believed we owned
the dissolving moment, even as it
slipped away into the haze of the past. Reflections

now I stroke into the eggs as they fluff
and coalesce. The bacon curls. The toast browns.
The family will be downstairs soon to eat.

— from Juniper Volume 3, Issue 3