A number of years ago, Dov Glock and I did a lot of very intensive work with men in groups. We learned a lot about what it meant to be a man, and a big part of that meant coming to terms with our own fathers and how they had affected us and the way we functioned in the world. One of the things we encouraged men to do was to write a poem for their father as a way of capturing the essence of this difficult but very meaningful struggle to understand and articulate something that is very, very hard to express. Here is mine from that time. I got to read it to my dad in front a large audience one day with Dov standing behind me and my mother in the crowd a few years before he died. I had pretty much forgotten this existed till another good male friend of mine published it on Facebook last year for my 60th birthday. Thanks for the reminder David.....Ashanti
And....here is a link to a video of that event....
Father Poem Video
Into the crisp cutting of the morning the son rises,
Fighting off the long shadow of the night’s inner journey,
I stop to re-kindle the fire burnt way down
In its own struggle through the darkness.
My heart, feeling blackened like the small embers I am fanning
Contracts against the power of the breath,
Fearing that it might leap into flames, igniting the tree
And possibly consuming the entire forest.
I stand, adult now, living at the edge of the sea, like a long thin reed,
Or the solitary leg of a silent Heron,
I am rooted with dangerous thinness in my chosen exile.
I was like gasoline near my father’s inner fire,
Explosions came out towards me with increasing danger.
Where was his passion?
Drowned in his decisions of responsibility –
His spirit, struggling to stay alive, was nearly lost
To the water of fire, which the false soul craved.
It served to keep the rage far enough hidden to remain constantly dangerous –
Did this come from his father too?
I needed to create demons around me to explain him!
My requests were simple – stop hitting me, don’t leave me,
Show me the way – but deafened by the roar of the fire –
Neither of us heard, we both forgot ... my chest scarred over.
This at least was hot – then for years I lost him.
Both of our fires receded, caught deep in the darkness of a winter’s wood,
Each of us frozen, silently crying out.
But we did not hear ourselves, let alone each other.
We would need some healing fire, but the frozen numbness became more comfortable –
It has a death-like perfection.
That too is addictive.
Finding myself in this darkness, the thing I fear most
Is the demon of fire now in my bones, this body rage
That is well beyond reason.
To find my passion, to break the cycle,
I must face the chaos and descend.
Somewhere along the path he came back to me,
Before the irreversible crisis of death had its final separation.
Together we form a crucible of learning.
Just what we learn is a matter of courage and choice.
To perpetuate the soul-eating distance between us
Would be cowardice.
Only one risking heart needs to break through the
My container is now strong enough to let our shared fire burn safely –
The gasoline is now just the ordinary wood of my soul.
I’ll let him know it’s safe
And wait for him
Ashanti Fraser – Gabriola Island, 1988