We ended class Wednesday, reviewing different types of poems, leaping, stand-up, slam, and confessional. The excitement that Professor Theune felt about certain poems being read-aloud reminded me of my own excitement when I come across an exquisite, powerful poem.
For this week’s post, I’d like to share in the beauty of Bob Hicok’s “The Wish”.
On Tuesday I learned I’d never sit with my father on a curb and chuck stones. Does it seem at times the life want runs to your left and parallel to your own? I thought we’d be planting a tree one day and he’d stop, put down his shovel and truculence and ask some useless thing, did I ever think of counting the leaves on a maple or wonder why it’s easier to cry alone in a car? We speak of parts of ourselves and in some unnamed place I’d decided this was inevitable, the he would soften into human form as we watched the river empty itself into its own mouth. He’d not know what to say or do and this would be fine, would be what the sky wanted of him, and we’d breathe, we’d move our hands and feet and forget we were father and son standing at the hem of a river, until one of us came back into our body and said I’m sorry, what where you saying? On a Tuesday at his kitchen table I learned from his eyes this would never happen. There will always be work, always fear and the need to make the soul small and impenetrable, to be hard enough to get the job done. Learned that if I speak the truth at his grave I’ll be allowed one phrase, that I have no idea who this man was.
This poem’s expression of nature and a long for the bond between father and son holds multiple complexities within it’s meaning, and it’s style. Each scene was not what he wished his father had taught him about being a man, but what he wished his father encompassed as characteristics; a man who took time to throw stones with his son, to plant new trees, and contemplate the leaves on the trees. His confession is a longing not literally for a nature walk with his father, but simply any memory of his father being human, gentle, kind.
There are little leaps in the poem, where his father “softens into human form”, and how the sky would want him to lose his train of thought walking side-by-side his son at the river’s edge. These leaps transcend the reader from the description of the scene to the depiction of the narrator’s pretend father.
I think this poem could be argued to fit in all categories that we have learned in class. The passion behind the narrator’s longing and confession, could easily be turned to slam, especially with the circular effect of the line “On a Tuesday I learned”. It is leaping in the river scene as the father and son travel in and out of their bodies, and how the sky holds the power of knowledge and want. Now to describe this poem as stand up is a tough debate, and possibly a hypocritical comparison, since this poem is most definitely confessional, however I cannot read the first few lines “The Wish” and not laugh at it’s simplicity of a regret; “On a Tuesday I learned I’d never sit/ with my father on a curb and chuck/ stones.”
How do you guys read this poem?