In My Father’s Kingdom
Daniel Barnum

Snow the morning we left the house.
The moon circled low in the west for hours, an old hound  
fussing over cold tile in the chosen corner of its owner’s room. How do

you undo the trail of sorry men and all the women who had fallen
for them – to dim the light from home enough to sleep  
at night? When past comes to life: that winter ride  

up-country through the hollow called after ancestors. a hunt
for whichever green was mine. Some place I could go
back to. Thought I owned by looking at; trying to mount  

landscape like a painting in a hall. My mind’s quick
sketch of trees, low mountains glazed under the truck cab’s glass. I know
but don’t know why I can’t hold the world ahead

and behind us. Time, coiled over its unhoardable treasure,
weighing every heart at the edge of after with its one question: what good
did it do? In my dreams, there are no dead –

same as waking life. Somewhere I cannot be
except in memory, Dad is naming parts of the sky
again, framing heaven through the window of the passenger’s side door.

Wherever his hand extends, my eye
will follow. Shadows of animals against shadow of forest: shift
of bodies in the dark thicket showing me there is nowhere to hide.
Daniel Barnum's poems and essays appear in Couplet Poetry, The Offing, Muzzle, Evergreen Review, Washington Square Review, Best New Poets, and elsewhere. They live in Philadelphia.


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