Larry Brody’s Poetry: ‘I Don’t Know My Father’

Couldn’t find a pic of my father and me, so here’s one of my furry son Decker and his late biological father, The Big Red Chow Dude.

 by Larry Brody


Speaking of Fathers Day, and fathers, this poem was written when my father was alive. My mother was upset because “you’ve written about other people’s fathers, why not your own?” I don’t think she or my father ever saw this. If one of them had, I would have heard about it. Wouldn’t ?

I Don’t Know My Father

I don’t know my father, never did.

In fact, my earliest memory of him

Is wondering who he was. I was four,

And my mother was talking to a

Neighbor. When she mentioned my father,

I tried to picture him, and couldn’t. I tried

To think of a time he and I had been together,

Had played, or talked, or had a snack.

Nothing. Yet I was no child of divorce. My

Father came home from work every evening,

And we were part of a family together—somehow.

My second memory of my father has me all of five,

Lying in bed beside him, proudly spelling “Y-E-S,”

And “N-O,” and “Cat” and “Dog” for good measure.

What did he say? I don’t know.

I can see him, young, dark,

Muscular, and I can feel his body against mine,

And smell his breath, but there’s nothing to hear. He didn’t

Speak much, and still doesn’t. It’s as though

He’s all tied up inside himself, a man who has found

The effort of coming out into the world simply

Too much. So he holds back, keeps who he is

Private, snug, and safe. No gain, but no

Pain either, I suppose you could say.

When I was a teenager, my father took me

To ballgames. We watched the Cubs, and

The White Sox, and the Bears. He rooted

Silently, smiling, perfectly comfortable with

His continuing retreat. Often, I would watch him

Instead of the game, and wonder what he was

Thinking. I wondered what he expected from

Life, if he had gotten it, if he thought it still could be,

And one day, as we drove home from Wrigley Field,

I asked. Surprisingly, my father didn’t hesitate.

I never expected anything,” he said. “Then what,”

I asked, “did you want?” Again, the answer was

Swift. “A job,” my father said. “All I ever wanted

Was a job.”

When I think of my father now, I think about hopes,

Aspirations, and dreams. I think of a dark,

Muscular man who never speaks, and wonder

Why he never reached, why he didn’t try.

Dad,” I want to say to him, “it’s not so bad

Here. Why haven’t you ever come outside?

Dad,” I want to say, “you have a beautiful voice.”

Larry Brody is the head dood at TVWriter™. He is posting at least one poem a week here at TVWriter™ because, as the Navajo Dog herself once pointed out, “Art has to be free. If you create it for money, you lose your vision, and yourself.” She said it shorter, though, with just a snort.