Bridging the Generations

I became a father only slowly

As the abandonment of love fused strands of nuclear energy

One with another, intertwining histories

As the generations passed their inherited riches one to another,

Gleaned from the dust and ashes of the past in a single cell.


But I became no father at conception

As embryonic fragments tumbled down the corridors of flesh

Without the tinkering engineer of test-tube glass

To be embedded quietly in the spacious room

That was its home while I became.


Not yet a father when I heard the rapid beat

Tapping its gentle sounds

Or felt the tortuous twistings of the growing child

Now visible upon the screen surpassing sound

And my own consciousness was born.


I became a father through no activity my own

Waiting pensive in another corridor

While she endured the labour

That would bring our child and be delivered

Squeezing the hours of agony into a hug of joy.


I was the father I am becoming

Shovelling slushy food, changing dirty nappies,

Pacing the floor on night-shift,

Hushing the lusty cries, longing for sleep

Which would erase the haggard lines - the stamp of parenthood.


I'm still becoming the father they'd have me be

Responding to the moulding fresh demands will bring

As their dream of me becomes reality for themselves

And they inherit more than genes -

The art of just becoming what they've seen me be.


Father's Day


June 1983