Stirring : A Literary Collection

Patricia Wellingham-Jones


I remember my father through child's eyes --
impossibly tall, stork-like, articulated
limbs jutting at angles, articulate in mind, too,
in thought, though not always in deed.
glinted on wire-rimmed glasses, on
shiny dome fringed in baby-fine
strands, snipped with no discount
for their sparseness and

light shone from clear blue eyes,
frosty with humor at the world's foolishness,
yet warm as he tucked his two
little girls into blankets shoved so snugly
under arms, buttocks, ankles we could
hardly breathe.
                                   My father
hunched, bookish, over early morning
pads of lined yellow paper, jotting
column after column, number after number,
remote, unfailingly polite to mother,
distant as a comet's trail.

I used to wonder how my sister and I
got here. In our teens we almost
believed immaculate conception
explained our family's dynamics.
Last year, in a rummage through
a box in the old home's basement,
I found the only evidence I've ever seen
to the contrary.
                                   A photograph,
top right corner bent until broken off,
a young couple with faces recognizably
my parents', a shining dome over
wire-rimmed glasses.

He was sprawled, loose-limbed  
and under-shirted, on the broad wood steps  
of a beach house in Avalon,
cigarette in long fingers and arm
flung behind her.
                                   She hunkered,
knees to chin, in the curl of his
armpit and ribcage, white trousers
flapping against sandaled feet
dazed smile on parted lips.

My aunt said it was the week before
the wedding. I arrived three years later,
could never know any of it.

Location: Tehama, California
Publications: The Tule Review, Phoebe, Visions International, Manzanita Quarterly, Midwest Poetry Review, Nanny Fanny, mélange journal, FZQ
Awards: 2-time Pushcart Prize nominee 2000; 2 Honorable Mentions, Ina Coolbrith Circle 2001; Honorable Mentions, WyoPoets Contest, Sky Blue Waters Contest, numerous others 2001 and earlier; Grand Prize, First Prize, Poets of the Vineyard 1999; First Prize, Midwest Poetry Review 1999
Chapbook: Don’t Turn Away: Poems About Breast Cancer
Edited: Labyrinth: Poems & Prose; River Voices: Poets of Butte, Shasta, Tehama and Trinity Counties, California

Stirring : A Literary Collection

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