The Family Hermit

by John Grey

He was a quiet man, not so much thoughtful,
as indifferent to thinking.
He pretended to be a father
but the motions didn’t suit.
And his face was ill-fitted for warmth.
On Sundays, instead of church,
my father would drive some place on his own.
take to the side roads, the dirt track,
into the woods where his presence
could no more than reflex action to his surrounds.
I only know this because he brought
some of his trip back home with him,
wind-ruffled hair, mud on his boots,
even a wildflower, cupped in his hand,
that answered more questions than his voice ever did.
Solitude was his religion.
A rock for a pew no doubt.
And maybe an altar waterfall,
while a moose in a bog sang hymns.
And the afterlife? An hour’s drive in good weather.
I never went with him. Yes, he took me fishing, to another place,
and always on Saturdays, a spot lovely enough
but littered with other fisherman.
He may have hoped to make this connection as precious
as the other. But we seldom caught anything.
His mystery place became just that.
He never spoke of it. He never shared.
It was just some out of the way Eden
where he could be himself,
a role that didn’t play well elsewhere.

 

Artist: Emma Rodriguez 

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Transcend, Dalhousie Review and Qwerty with work upcoming in Blueline, Hawaii Pacific Review and Clade Song.