POETRY: The Father by Maura Eichner

The Father by Maura Eichner

Luke 15:11-32

Never had the old man made such a journey.
His robes enfolded him like driving wind.
No one remembered the old man running. Even fire
had never moved him. His estates were the light
of the town. Yet, there he was, running to a dark
figure huddling the road. Love was flood-water

carrying him forward. Some tried to dike the water;
nothing could hold him. Love loosed a wind
of words: “My son is coming home.” Dark
grief behind, the father ran, arms open as light.
He had to lift the boy before his son’s fire
of sorrow burned the father’s sandals. Journey?

The old man could remember no other journey
but this homecoming: he held his son in the fire
of his arms, remembering his birth: water
and fire. Servants ran along thrusting at the wind
of excitement: what shall we do? what torchlight
prepare? “Bathe away the pig-pen-slopping-dark

that cloaks my son. Prepare a banquet. Jewel the dark
with fires. My son was dead. My son is afire
with life. The land is fruitful. Joy is its water.
Where is my eldest son? The end of the journey
is ours. My son, do you grieve? turn from the light
to say you are unrewarded? Son, is the wind

from the south closer to you than me? is the wind
of your doubt stronger than my love for you? Water
your hardness, my son. Be a brother to the dark
of your brother’s sorrow. Be a season of light
to his coming home. You will make many a journey
through cities, up mountains, over abysses of fire,

but for tonight and tomorrow, my eldest, fire
your heart, strike at its stone. Let it journey
toward dawning, be a thrust at the dark
your brother will never forget. Find a woman of water
and fire, seed her with sons for my name and wind-
supple daughters for bearing daughters and sons of light.

I am a father of journeys. I remind you the dark
can be conquered by love-blasting fire. I made air and wind
a compassionate homeland. Be at home in the light.”

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