FINDING THE FATHER by Robert Bly
|My friend, this body offers to carry us for nothing - as the ocean carries
So on some days the body wails with its great energy;
it smashes up the boulders,
lifting small crabs, that flow around the sides.
When you light the lamp you will see him.
I love this poem because something in it speaks to me of the loss of my own father, who separated from my mother when I was three, and never communicated with us again until I was in my early teens - by which time I had no knowledge that he'd existed. And as far as my large maternal extended family behaved, he may as well not have existed. The poem reminds me that he did care for me, although he allowed himself to miss out on my growing up; it reminds me that our contact was never physical after the initial separation, but only through old letters and articles in chess magazines about him, yet he had some substance in my mind once I knew he was. It also gives me a way of grieving for all the fathering I never received, and the loss that he suffered in not having me as his child.
This poem is presented in books as a prose poem; I've kept Bly's paragraph breaks, but in order to learn it I wrote it out for myself with line breaks, as in 'usual' poems.