This week’s poem, Arisa White’s “I feel for the father,” conjures a scene of parental absence and childhood yearning. I love the vivid imagery of this poem, and how it makes absence feel present in the most solid, tangible things – Chinese takeout, an uncle’s arms. “I feel for the father” is an excerpt from White’s hybrid memoir “Who’s Your Daddy?,” which she will discuss on March 5 in a virtual event hosted by Print: A Bookstore, the MWPA, and the Mechanics Hall. Learn more at printbookstore.com/event/white.

White is a Cave Canem fellow and an assistant professor of creative writing at Colby College. She is the author of four books, including the poetry collection “You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened,” and coauthor of “Biddy Mason Speaks Up,” winner of the Maine Literary Book Award for Young People’s Literature and the Nautilus Book Award Gold Medal for MiddleGrade Nonfiction. She serves on the board of directors for Foglifter and Nomadic Press.

 

I feel for the father

By Arisa White

 

I feel for the father, for a feeling of father,

I send out a cry, I am up when I hear my uncle

come through the door of the family house,

with the cherry tree out front, past midnight,

he walks up the stairs, then down the stairs,

and I’m the rock-a-bye baby in his arms.

 

At a time opened to the mythical world,

he dishes out Chinese takeout. I suck the knuckle of an

almost-eaten chicken bone. The fried rice glistens

from two packets of duck sauce. My uncle makes sure

each grain leaves me fed. When wee hours nod me out,

I am in his Tree of Heaven arms and the cradle never falls

into whole dead sounds or, thankfully, nothing at all.

 

Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “I feel for the father,” copyright © 2021 by Arisa White, reprinted from “Who’s Your Daddy?” (Augury Books, 2021). It appears by permission of the author.

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