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  • Grant Handgis

Grant Handgis ~ Author/Poet


from 'Journey From the Child"

The Old House

So many years I spent pruning

the blackberry bushes back beyond

the shadows of the fruit trees

in languishing attempts of realizing a

father's hope of regulating growth

in the wilder domain of nature

Like your own unkempt hair and clothes

worn contemptuously awry for effect

and expression in a cosmetic world

where cosmetic appeal supersedes a purpose

The sulking expression on your face

in all the photographs I took of you

in every north light angle of the yard

tells the story of all the times you wanted

and were left with nothing but desire to

hold onto and soothe the itch of emptiness

and only your sour face showed itself to me

on those occasions I could see beneath the veil

of a dispirited young man seeking acceptance

while going through the secreted motions of his life

Had I realized the many thoughts you held inside

were painful thorns which pricked the flesh of innocence

a quiet anguish endured without refrain yet

daily was your search for better pastures

where water washed your feet, the struggling beggar

under the helpless eye of one who loves you still

Jagged lines from shadows along the southern wall

match the furrowed rows of wrinkles on this older face

which has come to better understand your hidden darkness

those youthful days of roaming a lonely path to freedom

The old house which protected you for so many years

wears the many savory scars of youthful indiscretions

and the sullen rooms contain the secrets never told

but held in trust with a mutually conspiring sister

your beaming faces framed the mask of innocence

and turned the heart of one who saw you to this world

Those many years spent pruning back the blackberries

where nesting sparrows returned each year to claim

mark points along our path as father and son

these calloused hands have come to know so well

As a single parent for fifteen years, living in a house in Eugene, Oregon, situated up against the working fields of a farm, I was graced with wonderfully wild blackberry bushes in a thick hedge along the back fence, as well as apple trees and other forms of edible greenery. At the time, I was of the mind that a parent could cultivate and shape a child much like trimming and caring for the wild greenery. I learned many years later how foolish this notion is, that children conform to conventional norms, as known to the father. Each generation has its own new set of principles and rules based upon their peers, social media and other influences, not known when I was a boy.

The meter of this poem was not at first planned. I just felt the words arriving rapid fire to put down on paper what I was coming to understand, looking back. The first two stanzas are in Iambic Tetrameter. The last two are in Iambic Pentameter. Just unfolded that way.


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