by Frank Pool
I’m leaving the walls my father built, the hard
wood panels stand as bare as the day he filled
the final hole, the final molding board.
As ash will go to ash, the room is full.
The pictures all are down and packed and moved.
Alone I run my finger down the grain
and stand in silence for the man who loved
the son who will not see this place again.
The measured lengths and widths have met their ends;
if they be boards or walls or years or lives,
they break apart against the planet’s spin
as time for moving out someday arrives.
For one last time this wood I can rehearse
for from today these walls must live in verse.
SOURCE: Originally published in Sulphur River Review.
PHOTO: Ash wall paneling.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was occasioned by moving out of a house, and specifically from seeing my empty study. My father, who had recently died, helped me panel the room in ash hardwood. I had recently taught “The Aeneid,” so the idea of building walls was on my mind. There are many doublings in the poems, including word meanings, but also double instances of physicality and memory, past and present, and past and future.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Frank Pool has published poems in literary journals, and has published chapbooks and a full-length collection, Depth of Field (Plain View Press). For five years the chairman of the board of directors for the Austin International Poetry Festival, he lives in Austin, Texas, where he had a successful career teaching in the public schools. Now semi-retired, he writes a weekly column on language and literature for the Longview (Texas) News-Journal. He has run nine marathons and 30 half-marathons, and currently coaches a walking group training for those distances.