I. First Father
I see him standing on the empty plain
As dawn begins to break across his eyes.
He is alone, this first of all my fathers,
But he can sense his scions and his daughters
Following down the looming centuries,
For time has started weaving through his brain,
And he can think. He understands at last
What must become, and what’s become his past.
And here I stand upon this farthest link
Staring down the line of molecules
Twisted in a spiral arc. I gaze
The other way to where the whirling haze
Rises over dark and depthless pools
And wonder what the final man must think.
2. Fathers of the Tribe
His sons and grandsons travel with the tribe
As it drifts out of the immense savannah
Following the herds, but searching for
Something else as well. They must explore,
Apparently. For Eden? For Nirvana?
Their leaders are unable to describe
What they are seeking past these eastern sands,
Moving always northward to colder lands.
What have we found beyond those roaming droves
That led us into canyons made of glass?
Where do we go from here? How shall we feed
The starving myriads whose simplest need
No longer can be met on earth? En masse
We need again a miracle of loaves.
3. The Final Father
And as they stop, wherever they may move,
Each scion takes his mate who bears his seed,
The generations of First Father’s loins.
Time spends these children like so many coins
Minted from the soil. The earth has need
Of purses full of these. The parents rove
Into the mystery to make it known,
To turn the strangest climes into their own.
Now we are everywhere. The human race
Has filled the niches that the world provided.
What’s left is Easter Island duplicated
On a massive scale. We are checkmated
By ourselves; we are the tribe divided
Staring hopelessly to outer space.
YEAR BY YEAR
When we are born we have no clue
Why we are here, what we should do,
Therefore we flail about and yell
Till we are changed or held and fed,
And then at last, when all is well,
We take the world into our head,
Into our hands, until our fear
Begins to wane and disappear.
We enter school and learn to read
And how to cope with every need
That rises out of books and play.
We learn to cope with those around us
With whom we interact each day,
With all the people who surround us.
As we grow older year by year
Our playmates start to disappear.
Then we enter adolescence
To discover that the essence
Of existence seems hormonal:
We must learn to deal with excess
Of enticements pheremonal,
With the battle of the sexes.
As we grow older year by year
Our girl and boy friends disappear.
When finally we come of age
We take our place upon the stage
Of life and do what adults do:
Choose a career and graduate,
Settle on a friend or two,
Begin to think about a mate.
So we mature a bit each year,
And see our lovers disappear.
We settle down and get a house
Or an apartment with a spouse
Or live-in. Then the kids arrive
To take our energy and time —
No matter what, they seem to thrive.
We do as well, we’re in our prime
Until there comes that primal year
When all our children disappear.
The two of us are left alone
And then, perhaps, there’s only one
Because what else is there to do
Except look back and try to find
The future that we barely knew
Before it started to unwind
And we grew older, year by year,
Watching our elders disappear?
Now here we are. The moon turns blue
No longer and the days are few
When we have anything of note
To celebrate or fill our minds.
We have no projects to promote
Or interests of different kinds,
For we’ve grown older year by year
And seen our lifetime disappear.
Copyright © 2010 Lewis Turco
Lewis Turco's latest
book of poems, by his anagram "altar (sic) ego Wesli
Court," is THE GATHERING OF THE ELDERS AND OTHER
POEMS, published this fall by Star Cloud Press of
Scottsdale, Arizona. The fourth edition of his THE
BOOK OF FORMS: A HANDBOOK OF POETICS will be
published by University Press of New England next
fall. It will include "Odd and Invented Forms."
Photo by Jim Russel