Sunday Poetry: The Tiny Bones Inside His Soul

Welcome to Sunday Poetry.  We began last month, and if you didn’t join us then, don’t worry.  This is a drop-in, drop-out adventure.  You can read about the purpose and inspiration behind Sunday Poetry here.    

What’s your part?  Just slow down a little and come along for the read.  If you’d like to tell us what the day’s poem means in your life, or what word or phrase you’ve chosen to reflect on, or where those reflections have taken you, we would be honored.  But there are no demands or imperatives.   The photo on today’s blog will appear each Sunday along with a link.  Out of respect for copyright, I won’t be posting the poem of the day on the blog, but it will be just one easy click away.  If I have something to add, I will.   If you have something to add, please do.

Today is my father’s birthday.  He turns 93 and still lives alone in Florida, where I grew up.  He’s not an easy man, nor was his life easy, so when I went in search of poems about fathers, I discarded most of them.  Some are gaggingly sentimental.  Others portray an accessible man I never knew.  Then I found this one.  Although it’s not quite the story of my father’s life, the feel of it seemed right, and it expresses, so profoundly what I often write about, the impact that people we may never have met still have on our own lives.  You’ll understand when you read it.

Late Poem to My Father by Sharon Olds can be found at Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac, along with other pleasures.  This title is from a broadcast in 2005, and you can hear that entire day’s content, including the recitation of this poem by clicking on “listen.”  Why not give it a try and see if hearing the poem read out loud brings new depth to your experience?


  1. Linda P. on April 10, 2011 at 8:01 am

    I thought this one was rather hard to read – some of us don’t really know our fathers, they seem to be off trying to make a living to provide for us, without really making a “life” for us.
    There is a song Reba McIntire sang a few years back – The Greatest Man I Never Knew, describes my father. I’m afraid I didn’t know my father as well, as I would have liked due to a divorce and many miles between us.
    Goshh, Emilie, now I find tears whelling up in my eyes – I sure hope next weeks is lively!! No wait, I have a birthday on the 23rd, let’s have a fun one that week end!!
    I really am enjoying the “Poem Sunday” and find myself thinking on them thru the week. Thank you, this was a great idea.

    • Emilie Richards on April 10, 2011 at 8:31 am

      It’s indeed a moving poem, and for me it gets to the heart of how to love people we may not necessarily like or understand. But for the record, I, too, need something cheerful next week, and that poem, which is already scheduled, will be for my mother, whose sense of humor was legendary. So check back.

  2. IrishApples on April 10, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Tears…..This poem made me think of my father who passed away just over a year ago. I agree I prefer poems that are more joyful and light, or those that make you think and ponder their meaning. This one just made me cry. I miss my dad.

  3. Linda P in IL on April 11, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    Makes me even more thankful for my Dad and sad for kids that grow up with a man like the one in the poem…
    My Dad wrote poetry when in WWII, there was one I especially remember about shipping out on Christmas Eve.
    I miss my Dad too.

    • Emilie Richards on April 12, 2011 at 8:05 am

      What a wonderful poem that would be to share with family coming after him. He sounds very special.

  4. Kay Myhrman-Toso on April 13, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    I just returned from California where I conducted the memorial service for my father-in-law. (No pressure at all, right?!) As I prepared, I waded in & out of the old rooms in which he dwelt. He, too, was a complex man, shaped by growing up during the Depression, being in WW II,& dealing with adversity. As I listened to my husband and his brothers speak at the service, it was so clear how events and people from way before their times had influenced them, through their father. While the particulars were not the same as in this poem, the arc of connections felt very familiar.

    My heart does ache for all the children whose souls are not lovingly tended. Those greenstick fractures of the soul may not show up on an X-ray, but they certainly do show up in a multiplicity of ways in the life of that child and in society as a whole. Lots to ponder from this week’s poem.

    • Emilie Richards on April 14, 2011 at 4:45 pm

      I know everyone appreciated what was surely an insightful and very personal service, but doing one for a family member must also have been so draining for you. Sending warm thoughts your way and for your family, as well.

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