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The Father

First Place – 2021 Poetry Contest

Your dead father dogs you
like the white mutt that roams

along the fishing holes and walks
the edge of gravel roads, sometimes

at a trot, most times slow,
but with purpose, muscle and sinew

protecting old bones. The father
in silence with pipe clenched

between his teeth made a fog
of every place he inhabited.

What did he understand
of you, late arrived child,

when he hoped the burdens
of fatherhood were done?

The white dog looks deep
within you, his eyes the blue

of your father’s favorite Rapala.
You take his poles, his tackle box

pulled shut with an old belt
and sit at the shore. You cast

and try to think past what you
harbor in you—the strange

alchemy of love and duty,
and the anger that rises from it,

thick as the dog’s hackles
when it senses something

hidden in the lake’s fog.

Contributors

Jennifer Fandel is the first-place winner of the Wisconsin People & Ideas 2021 Poetry Contest.

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Phone: 608.733.6633 x25