The National Catholic Review

What I miss now is not the dark
it’s the light,
the cone of light from a table lamp,
my father sitting at the plain deal table
paying the bills in a shuffle of papers.
I see him drinking a cup of hot steamy coffee
staring out at the back yard—
it’s a September night
and I have to get up for school,
but I watch him—
running his hands through his hair
sipping the coffee,
as if he hears a kind of song
out there in the night’s dark,
a music only he remembers.
The night’s coolness
the sound of crickets
and the freights slowing
for the North Side loading dock—
helps him forget the bills, the work.
For a few moments
he sings the song to himself
and he’s far away.
Praise the early fall dark,
praise the cool night
that lets my father daydream,
singing his own song again.
Praise my father for the things
he gave up and lost,
and could not get back.

Gerald McCarthy’s most recent collection of poems is Trouble Light (West End Press). He is included in the New Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, Vol. III: Postmodernism (Rutgers University Press). This poem was the third runner-up in the Foley Poetry Contest of 2012.

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