What it must be like to be an angel
or a squirrel, we can imagine sooner.
The last time we go to bed good,
they are there, lying about darkness.
They dandle us once too often,
these friends who become our enemies.
Suddenly one day, their juniors
are as old as we yearn to be.
They get wrinkles where it is better
smooth, odd coughs, and smells.
It is grotesque how they go on
loving us, we go on loving them
The effrontery, barely imaginable,
of having caused us.  And of how.
Their lives: surely
we can do better than that.
This goes on for a long time.  Everything
they do is wrong, and the worst thing,
they all do it, is to die,
taking with them the last explanation,
how we came out of the wet sea
or wherever they got us from,
taking the last link
of that chain with them.
Father, mother, we cry, wrinkling,
to our uncomprehending children and grandchildren.
 
From The Cheer, published by Alfred A. Knopf. Copyright © 1980 by William Meredith. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Poems by This Author

Envoi by William Meredith
Go, little book. If anybody asks
In Loving Memory of the Late Author of Dream Songs by William Meredith
Friends making off ahead of time
Last Things by William Meredith
In the tunnel of woods, as the road
Rhode Island by William Meredith
Here at the seashore they use the clouds over & over
Starlight by William Meredith
Going abruptly into a starry night
The Illiterate by William Meredith
Touching your goodness, I am like a man


Further Reading

Dead Father Poems
Cruel Cogito
by Ken Chen
Do not go gentle into that good night
by Dylan Thomas
Grief Calls Us to the Things of This World
by Sherman Alexie
Lay Back the Darkness
by Edward Hirsch
Little Father
by Li-Young Lee
Mortality
by William Knox
My Father
by Scott Hightower
My Father on His Shield
by Walt McDonald
My Father's Hat
by Mark Irwin
Renewal [Excerpt]
by Chris Abani
Separation is the necessary condition for light.
by Brian Teare
The Figure
by Joseph Fasano
The Gift
by Li-Young Lee
Those Winter Sundays
by Robert Hayden
To Her Father with Some Verses
by Anne Bradstreet
Whose Mouth Do I Speak With
by Suzanne Rancourt
Working Late
by Louis Simpson
Yesterday
by W. S. Merwin
Poems About Fathers
'The child is father to the man.'
by Gerard Manley Hopkins
The Last 4 Things [That hard thread]
by Kate Greenstreet
A Boy and His Dad
by Edgar Guest
A Situation for Mrs. Biswas
by Prageeta Sharma
A Story
by Li-Young Lee
A Story
by Philip Levine
American Primitive
by William Jay Smith
Another Country
by Ryan Teitman
Auld Lang Syne
by Jennifer L. Knox
Blood
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Confessions: My Father, Hummingbirds, and Frantz Fanon
by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Daddy
by Sylvia Plath
Descriptions of Heaven and Hell
by Mark Jarman
Do not go gentle into that good night
by Dylan Thomas
Father
by Edgar Guest
Father Outside
by Nick Flynn
Father's Day Cards
from The Princess [Sweet and low, sweet and low]
by Lord Alfred Tennyson
Grief Calls Us to the Things of This World
by Sherman Alexie
Her Father
by Thomas Hardy
How to Be a Lawyer
by Jordan Davis
Inventing Father In Las Vegas
by Lynn Emanuel
Lay Back the Darkness
by Edward Hirsch
Like Him
by Aaron Smith
Man of the Year
by Robin Becker
Meeting with My Father in the Orchard
by Homero Aridjis
My Father
by Scott Hightower
my father moved through dooms of love
by E. E. Cummings
My Father on His Shield
by Walt McDonald
My Father Remembers Blue Zebras
by Judy Halebsky
My Father's Hat
by Mark Irwin
My Father's Leaving
by Ira Sadoff
My Papa's Waltz
by Theodore Roethke
Only a Dad
by Edgar Guest
Passing
by Carl Phillips
Poems about Fathers
Renewal [Excerpt]
by Chris Abani
Separation is the necessary condition for light.
by Brian Teare
Shaving Your Father's Face
by Michael Dickman
Tended Strength: Gifts of Poetry for Fathers
The Ferryer
by Sharon Olds
The Idea of Ancestry
by Etheridge Knight
The Idiot
by Charles Reznikoff
The Portrait
by Stanley Kunitz
The Trouble Ball [excerpt]
by Martín Espada
Those Winter Sundays
by Robert Hayden
To Her Father with Some Verses
by Anne Bradstreet
Toad
by Diane Seuss
Whose Mouth Do I Speak With
by Suzanne Rancourt
With Kit, Age 7, at the Beach
by William Stafford
Working Late
by Louis Simpson
Yesterday
by W. S. Merwin
Poems About Mothers
Disciplines [If there is prayer, there is a mother kneeling]
by Dawn Lundy Martin
Kaddish, Part I
by Allen Ginsberg
a woman peeling apples, with a small child
by Pattie McCarthy
Beasts
by Carmen Giménez Smith
Chorus
by Catherine Barnett
Exile
by Alicia Suskin Ostriker
Getting Close
by Victoria Redel
Jugglers
by Francisco Aragón
Lucky
by Tony Hoagland
Mama, Come Back
by Nellie Wong
Measurement Fable
by Rusty Morrison
Metamorphosis
by James Richardson
Mother
by Lola Ridge
Mother
by Herman de Coninck
Mother Ann Tells Lucy What Gave Her Joy
by Arra Lynn Ross
Mother o' Mine
by Rudyard Kipling
Mother's Day
by David Young
My Mother on an Evening in Late Summer
by Mark Strand
My Mother Was No White Dove
by Reginald Shepherd
My Mother Would Be a Falconress
by Robert Duncan
My Mother's Funeral
by Ira Sadoff
Picking Up
by Evelyn Duncan
Poems about Motherhood
Postcards
by E. Ethelbert Miller
Postpartum
by Hiromi Itō
Rock Me to Sleep
by Elizabeth Akers Allen
She Leaves Me Again, Six Months Later
by Collier Nogues
The Player Queen
by W. B. Yeats
The Routine Things Around the House
by Stephen Dunn
The Visit
by Jason Shinder
They Call This
by C. K. Williams
To My Mother
by Robert Louis Stevenson
To My Mother
by Edgar Allan Poe
To My Mother
by Christina Rossetti
To My Mother Waiting on 10/01/54
by Teresa Carson
Untitled [A house just like his mother's]
by Gregory Orr
Wedding Cake
by Naomi Shihab Nye
With Child
by Genevieve Taggard
[Sonnets are full of love, and this my tome]
by Christina Rossetti