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About this Poem 

"This poem was written after someone very close to me experienced the tragic death of her father. It grew largely out of my witness to her dialogue with that absence, and, I suppose, my feeling of how powerless I was to help her."
Joseph Fasano

The Figure

Joseph Fasano

You sit at a window and listen to your father
crossing the dark grasses of the fields

toward you, a moon soaking through his shoes as he shuffles the wind
aside, the night in his hands like an empty bridle.

How long have we been this way, you ask him.
It must be ages, the wind answers. It must be the music of the wind

turning your fingers to glass, turning the furniture of childhood
to the colors of horses, turning them away.

Your father is still crossing the acres, a light on his tongue
like a small coin from an empire that has always been ruined.

Now the dark flocks are drifting through his shoulders
with an odor of lavender, an odor of gold. Now he has turned

as though to go, but only knelt down with the heavy oars
of October on his forearms, to begin the horrible rowing.

You sit in a chair in the room. The wind lies open
on your lap like the score of a life you did not measure.

You rise. You turn back to the room and repeat what you know:
The earth is not a home. The night is not an empty bridle

in the hands of a man crossing a field with a new moon
in his old wool. We abandon the dead. We abandon them.
 

Copyright © 2013 by Joseph Fasano. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on February 20, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Copyright © 2013 by Joseph Fasano. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on February 20, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Joseph Fasano

Joseph Fasano is the author of three collections of poems, Inheritance (Cider Press Review, 2014); Fugue for Other Hands (Cider Press Review, 2013), winner of the Cider Press Review Book Award; and Vincent, forthcoming in 2015 from Cider Press. His honors include two Pushcart Prize nominations, the RATTLE Poetry Prize, and a finalist nomination for the Missouri Review Jeffrey E. Smith Editors' Prize.

He teaches at Manhattanville College and in the graduate and undergraduate writing programs at Columbia University. He lives in New York City.

by this poet

poem

If tonight the moon should arrive like a lost guide
crossing the fields with a bitter lantern in her hand,

her irides blind, her dresses wild, lie down and listen to her
find you; lie down and listen to the body become

the promise of no other, the sleeper in the garden
in its own arms,