Fathers and sons have always shared a powerful and sometimes difficult bond. When to speak, when to hold still, when to love, when to let go.
Rich Marcello, In a marvelous new collection of extraordinary verse, drinks deeply from this well as he channels the thoughts and feelings of every father for his son.
“His face, sunlit, reminds me of a time when I was young / when I convinced myself all the world was dark / when the corner into which I was painted seemed drawn by others./ I want to tell him all of this. Tell him it will be okay. / Tell him he will find his way out of the corner one step at a time / even though some will be false. / But I’ve lived long enough to know he can’t hear me now. / So, instead, I pray forgiveness washes over him instead of sunlight.”
And, of time shared with a beloved grandfather:
“Shiny quarters given your workday suits and ties even on the weekends / the fights on the old radio in the basement / the cherry trees in full bloom / the Jersey shore strawberries / our long talks over football / I was the long-awaited grandson, endeared by order and substitution / the son never to come. / A circle in a square / Hair always a little too long / Values a little too left, I often yielded back then, / I thought out of respect but now I know out of descent. / You taught me first that love amidst difference / like hydrogen on the sun fusing into helium / lights generations.”
And, now and then through the years, when in deepest self-doubt, the son parents the father:
“Sometimes, when I’m dark like now, you visit / hands pocketed and smile worn calm / Without a word, you remind me of how you believed in me before I did / of how father is a name that can apply to anyone / of how a brief blush of peace, of forgiveness, can come when least expected.”
This lyrical collection transcends description, doing what all good poetry does, shining a soft light on often-unexpressed feelings. Marcello’s superb writing flows effortlessly (though all poets know that’s not so), and captures as well the long love of a married couple with years of friendship between them.
“Today persistent snow creates a white ceiling / and swirling walls around us as we walk through the morning. / Mostly we walk in silence, aware we’re connected to some larger radiant web / to some ageless dance, ubiquitous on days like today…/ At home, clothes fall off. / Face to face, we tremble as we kiss / in a way that can only happen after years of walking.”
Five-plus stars doesn’t seem like enough for this glimpse into a good man’s soul. But it’s all we have to bestow on The Long Body That Connects Us All. Order a trade paperback version of this thought-provoking work. You’ll want to read and re-read it again and again.