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Philip Levine - Father

The long lines of diesels 
groan toward evening 
carrying off the breath 
of the living. 
The face of your house 
is black, 
it is your face, black 
and fire bombed 
in the first street wars, 
a black tooth planted in the earth 
of Michigan 
and bearing nothing, 
and the earth is black, 
sick on used oils. 

Did you look for me in that house 
behind the sofa 
where I had to be? 
in the basement where the shirts 
yellowed on hangers? 
in the bedroom 
where a woman lay her face 
on a locked chest? 
I waited 
at windows the rain streaked 
and no one told me. 

I found you later 
face torn 
from The History of Siege, 
eyes turned to a public wall 
and gone 
before I turned back, mouth 
in mine and gone. 
I found you whole 
toward the autumn of my 43rd year 
in this chair beside 
a masonjar of dried zinnias 
and I turned away. 

I find you 
in these tears, few, 
useless and here at last. 

Don't come back.

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Poet: Philip Levine
Poem: Father
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