THREE POEMS BY HERBERT SCOTT
My Father’s Fortune
Silence was my father’s fortune,
carried with him everywhere for safekeeping,
houses and cars and offices crowded with silence.
And trailing my father
four fair-skinned children of difference sizes,
a matched set of luggage,
silence folded inside like Sunday clothes.
Everything my father owned transporting silence.
But not a silence of anger or isolation.
Instead, one of yearning, inarticulate
and fumbling. A silence that learned
its own language, its own stubborn love.
That summer nothing would do
but we sink the boat
in the heart of the lake
and swim in the cool night
for the yellow fire on the beach.
Through the dark water.
We all made it but Ronald,
whom we never found,
who was never Ronald
again; each fish I catch
since, I ask Ron, is that you?
Each day redeemed by evening.
The stammering sunset.
The moon in its rut of sky
The mind is white wicker.
Cows, heavy with the business of milk,
nod home from the east pasture.
There is a moan that milk makes.
The clatter of hooves, the lovely cow eyes.
Thrown oats. The rasp of rough tongues.
My grandmother’s small hands.
It is true the earth cries out at dusk.
Its various voices.
*all from Sleeping Woman, Carnegie Melon University Press, 2005.