It is this way sometimes on winter nights,
when ears expect the rhythmic crunch
of homebound walkers in the sugar-crust
of snow. You think you know the footfalls.
Those of your father as he once returned
nightly from work, with a soldier’s weariness,
his topcoat a flag of tobacco dreams. Is this
senility? When all time’s bridges are retreats.
The footfalls approach, pass, and fade. Someone
is going home to be kissed, to be fed, or to sit
in the company of family. It is not your business.These nights have their own wings, their own prayers.
A cigarette is your candle.
Sleep, your father…and your sons. Charles O’Hay is the recipient of a 1995 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fellowship in poetry. His poems have appeared in over 100 publications, both in print and online, including Cortland Review, New YorkQuarterly , Gargoyle, and West Branch.