Deep Water: “The Father”, by Jonathan Aldrich

This week’s poem, “The Father,” comes to us from a beautiful new book by a beloved late Maine poet, Jonathan Aldrich. This poem is of luminous simplicity and grace. I love the wise compassion of its speaker as he sings of age, stories and the way to shore.

Aldrich wrote more than a dozen books during his 40-year career as a poet. He received the Academy of American Poets Award and was a Frost Scholar at the Bread Loaf School of English. His translation of Charles Baudelaire‘s Voyage, illustrated by Allison Hildreth and hand-printed by David Wolfe Productions, won a Baxter Society Award. Aldrich also taught English at several colleges, including 25 years at the Maine College of Art, where he received the Best Teacher Award. A major retrospective of his work, “The Old World in his Arms”, has just been published by Wolfson Press at Indiana University.

The father

By Jonathan Aldrich

Let me take you by the hand, old sir.

There may be some stories we haven’t told

another and the hour is late now.

We’re both getting old

(and you are much older than me).

There’s no other way

on the shore than by the trees.

It’s better than you think to be blind.

Teller of tales, beautiful long stories,

where are you going and how?

Something still asks us to find

my soul again, we have so much to say.

Quieter here, it is a land of water.

Let me take you by the hand.

Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer living in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in conjunction with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “The Father,” by Jonathan Aldrich, copyright © 2022 by Jonathan Aldrich, appears in “The Old World in His Arms,” published by Wolfson Press at Indiana University.


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