A Man of Few Words, My Father

He never said how owls were special,

just taught us to listen to their hoots

and wickerings falling past the moon.

How to track a heron’s silhouette

across the sky by the pulsing of their

wings, scooping air to propel long

bodies into the wispy clouds of a

summer’s evening.  He never did


say much of anything unless it

was the please and thank yous

of his childhood after a good

meatloaf dinner, or another tie

come Christmas time.  He did say

you took care of those that helped

you, tipped well, thanked the mechanic.

Shared the odd bottle come holidays.


He spoke mostly with his hands, carving

sea turtles, shaping the lathed stem to

a floor lamp, cutting pipe to bring

the water inside, setting the first

flush toilet on its golden wax ring.

We never spoke of how we could

drive miles and only call out the next

number of our accumulated hawks,


both sides of the highway being fair

as long as we could prove their

location if challenged. He’d ask now

and then if I was all right, and I’d

mumble Yeah, or Sure. We knew

the only language we really needed

was for what crawled or flew, knew

to respect silence without fear.