This week’s poem, Jefferson Navicky’s “My Father Could Take Apart a Dryer,” meditates on a father, fatherhood and what it is to have a father. I love how this poem takes a complex but seemingly mundane domestic task and opens it up to even more complex emotional puzzles and feats.

Navicky is the author of “Antique Densities: Modern Parables & Other Experiments in Short Prose” (2021), as well as the poetic novel “The Book of Transparencies” (2018) and the story collection “The Paper Coast” (2018). He is the archivist for the Maine Women Writers Collection and lives in Freeport with his wife, dog, cats and chickens.

My Father Could Take Apart a Dryer

By Jefferson Navicky

My father could take apart a dryer,
said to my mother: you’re the only one who can handle me,
which meant: I’m a mother– and I love you,
a more difficult sound to form on the tongue.

The ear doesn’t do enough work in fatherhood.

My father listens to birds feeding,
the emphasis on waiting.
He’s trying to teach me something
about losing him, but I can’t hear it.

Inside the sound is the name
for the ability to take apart a dryer,
making sure the power’s in the right place,
disconnected, then connected.

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. “My Father Could Take Apart a Dryer” copyright © 2020 by Jefferson Navicky, is reprinted from the Beloit Poetry Journal. It appears by permission of the author.

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