Happy Birthday, Dad

dad loggingIt’s the 87th anniversary of my dear father’s birth. So here’s a poem, written around 1990 and never published.


From the kitchen window I watch my father
fence in chickenwire two young trees, one apple,
one plum. Deer that visit each dusk
have cropped the tender growth of these,
Mom’s roses, too.  The neighbor, visiting, 
says he’ll shoot them. Mom says, I hope not.

What is it that holds them now, mother
and father, her husband, his wife?
He, retired after fifty years of taking trees
out of forests; she, whose sons
no longer hunt the deer she ground
for venison-burger, sliced into steaks.

Who will harvest apples and plums
from these trees when they have grown beyond
the reach of deer? Who will look up
from apple-butter making and love the sight
of deer as much as that of roses?

apples 2010


3 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Dad

  1. Wow….this poem so hit home. I just wrote a poem filled with parents, apples, apple butter, and watching my father out the window harvest apples. I should have included deer, as the deer are a constant source of discussion, especially how they eat the roses and also their plums! Anyway, lovely poem, with an eye to details that make up a life and the fleeting time we have to share it. Thanks for sharing….

  2. Carey — I knew we shared a connection the first time I visited your blog. Thanks for adding your comment. I know when I wrote this poem I had been reading Homer’s Odyssey (with Janet Blumberg) and was struck by a commentary about Odysseus’ elderly father planting apple trees…an image that is all about leaving a legacy for future generations. At least, my brain is putting all of those things together…

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