by Kevin Shyne
Why did I wait so long to write to you,
more than a friend, a second father,
until your Christmas letters stopped?
In free and easy cursive, you’d tell
the news of Hannah, adopted daughter,
of Pat, the wife you married late in life,
of children by an ex with children of their own.
If only I’d written sooner instead of writing a poem.
Why did I wait so long to call
until your story-telling voice and poetry
you knew by heart no longer could
uplift me through the phone?
No church confessor listened half as well
or knew the words to say
to guide a young man home.
If only I’d called you sooner instead of writing a poem.
Why did I wait so long to catch a flight
until no wings could take me where
you hugged me at your open door?
As close as strings of a mandolin,
as rows of wheat, as drops of rain,
we could have mused for hours about
how beautiful and foolish this old world had grown.
If only I’d caught a flight instead of writing a poem.
How could I let it come to this: the father
whom I idolized left before our work was done.
Then came an unexpected gift,
the second father you’d become.
I’ll gladly be the man forever in your debt
leaning on your strength, blessing you, and yet,
so much we left unfinished. Shouldn’t I have known?
If only I’d spoken sooner instead of writing a poem.
Copyright © 2019 by Kevin Shyne.