My father was no ordinary man

 

My father could fly. He needed no father –

he had mother, the hunger of four older brothers –

my father was one of an army of brothers

and he learnt all the ways of men.

 

My father was handsome and worshipped by women.

His loins were a river: they flowed with his children

and he was the fountain of truth we all drank from

and when he held forth we would not interrupt him.

My father named every flower in the garden,

each star in the night by the right constellation.

He knew all the birds by their song

 

and they sang it. My father could never be wrong.

His hands were a gun and they brought down the rabbit.

He fed us on flesh that was studded with bullets.

There was fire in his fist, there was gold in his pocket.

My father turned water to wine and he drank it –

he needed no prayer and no God

 

for he was the word and he rang like a hammer.

Oh, my father was victor; he rode on our shoulders,

he rode deep inside us. We carried my father

through hell and high water,

we proved ourselves worthy of love

 

and his love was a river in flood.

The sun made him happy.

The truth was soft mud in his hands, oh truly

he was the truth and he was the glory.

He filled all the rooms with his song and his story,

his whisper could silence a house

 

for my father bore pain that you could not imagine.

His forearms were scarred and his fingers were broken.

His lungs were a pit and his heart was a puncture.

Oh, my father was hard and my father was tender

and his hand was a mark

we will all wear forever.