Steve Cox: ‘Letter to My Father’

Letter to My Father

Old man in exile, self-imposed,
do you ever think of me
and the earlier days of troubled family?
There was I, your first-born son,
with the shining, hopeful star of Art
sudden dawning upon his brow.
He was not what you hoped for,
this queer boy;
not for him the tough tangle
of the soccer pitch;
those boisterous, bawling boys
only slyly admired by him
from the edge of the field.
You tried to fit the boy to manly purpose,
with boxing gloves and football
and shiny, mystifying, Playboy magazine,
fruitless one and all.
For this strange boy was nourished
in the humid hothouse
of his queer imagination,
where took root the trembling twig
he nursed to tree-hood—
his own sturdy oak of Art
in whose golden branches
he was suddenly real
and singing.
Old man, long-time stranger,
do you ever think of me
and the years you cast aside?
There was I, hoping for love;
the love you could not offer
to one who drifted
on the wrong breeze.
I sometimes think of you, old man,
and wonder what could I have done
to be your real son?
The one you wanted,
the one you were cheated out of.
But I was the cuckoo in the nest,
who searched for stranger fruit
than could ever grow
on your unreliable boughs.

Steve Cox

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