Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2011 v10n1
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Allen Whicher’s Love Tale

The night he saw his old man on top,
Allen Whicher said, he nearly shit
with fear, but not because of what
he saw, which wasn’t much, it
was he wasn’t supposed to be where
he was, and he was, and he thought
Hell, I’ll catch his worst strap sure,
and to hear him tell it, now almost
crying, he struck first, shouting. Dad
up and grabbed his belt and wailed.

I’ve thought this over and think now
that Allen Whicher lied, as boys do
when first faced with crude facts
involving their mother and more.
I can’t say what he saw exactly, or
what fear he felt, but it isn’t only
place or time, wrong as may be, that
sets a father’s scream ringing clear.
One day our son came in and knew
to choose the door we couldn’t shut.

It’s like so much else, said my dearest,
just ignore what hurts, as you don’t
see the heart attack on the street, pass
the man slugging his child, wish a girl
luck with a flat on a fast, dark road.
And if you stop, trouble has its sly way
of sticking long after you have gone.
Just wave, think what Allen Whicher
said that no dad can bear, keep on,
think how the story will be told,
years later, at the table, finally alone.  end

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