Lay Back the Darkness

Edward Hirsch

 
My father in the night shuffling from room to room
on an obscure mission through the hallway.
Help me, spirits, to penetrate his dream
and ease his restless passage.
Lay back the darkness for a salesman
who could charm everything but the shadows,
an immigrant who stands on the threshold
of a vast night
without his walker or his cane
and cannot remember what he meant to say,
though his right arm is raised, as if in prophecy,
while his left shakes uselessly in warning.
My father in the night shuffling from room to room
is no longer a father or a husband or a son,
but a boy standing on the edge of a forest
listening to the distant cry of wolves,
to wild dogs,
to primitive wingbeats shuddering in the treetops.
 
From Lay Back the Darkness by Edward Hirsch Copyright © 2003 by Edward Hirsch. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Poems by This Author

A Greek Island by Edward Hirsch
Traveling over your body I found
Amour Honestus by Edward Hirsch
The nights were long and cold and bittersweet,
Fall by Edward Hirsch
Fall, falling, fallen. That's the way the season
Fast Break by Edward Hirsch
I'm Going to Start Living Like a Mystic by Edward Hirsch
Today I am pulling on a green wool sweater
In Memoriam Paul Celan by Edward Hirsch
Lay these words into the dead man's grave
The Widening Sky by Edward Hirsch
I am so small walking on the beach
Veterans of Foreign Wars by Edward Hirsch
Let's not forget the General
What the Last Evening Will Be Like by Edward Hirsch
You're sitting at a small bay window
Wild Gratitude by Edward Hirsch
Tonight when I knelt down next to our cat, Zooey


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
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
Parents
by William Meredith
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 Philip Levine
A Story
by Li-Young Lee
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
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
Parents
by William Meredith
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