This week’s poem subtly gives life to a father’s passing, and the different ways that passing is marked.

Carol Willette Bachofner is the former poet laureate of Rockland and the author of five books, including “The Boyfriend Project” (Such a Girl Press, 2017). She is a recent winner of the Belfast Poetry Festival’s Maine Postmark Poetry Contest.

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Then the Bell

By Carol Willette Bachofner

Father still as the sky.

Mother in the other room

making tea, the ceremony of it still

fresh as the day of their wedding.

Her brothers flee to the fields, await the bell

in the village temple, sure sign

their father is at peace. But she

can only dance, the dance he taught her

as a child, the one summoning the swans.

She dances with her hands, stirring

the air, fanning Father’s brow. Her blue shoes,

the ones Father made for her first dance, seem

to lift her, to carry away her tears – to the river

where soon enough, Father’s lantern will drift away.

The swans arrive: first five, then ten, then twenty.

Their beaks open and close. Their great wings fold,

unfold. She dances like one of them now, slow and silent.

Mother brings in the tea, her own dance now done.

Father’s one sigh. Then the bell.

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc is poet who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2017 Carol Willette Bachofner. It appears here by permission of the author. For an archive of all the poems that have appeared in this column, go to

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