Saturday, December 31, 2016

Poems I Admire #28

I Know My Father
From stories only, from Mother’s mouth
on winter evenings by a single lamp.
A splendid man, a doctor,
taken while I drifted.
Smelling always of soap –
his fingers, the folds of his knuckles.
And from his framed face on the mantel,
unruly hair leaning across his forehead
as though windblown.

Can you see him? she asks, and I can,
bending over the beds of sick children,
soap scent whispering from his cuffs
as he warms with his breath
the disc of the stethoscope,
places it on small, bony chests, translates
the rattling of their lungs into ink on a page.
The crinkles at his eyes, the sky
deepening outside the hospital windows.
How he ruffles their hair, tucks their pain
into his pockets ad moves on, leaving
a bright wink shimmering at each bed,
leaving them drowsing,
taking their pale faces home.

Where he winds her in his arms
and lifts her to her toes, presses her cheek
into the faded spice of his collar
in the small kitchen where the fragrance
of rosemary lingers after dinner.
He kisses the back of her neck
as she washes dishes,
standing as close to the sink as I will allow,
I, big in her belly, tethered and drifting,
missing my father by weeks.

First appeared in San Pedro River Review

Ricki Mandeville’s poems have recently appeared in Comstock Review, San Pedro River Review, Pea River Journal, Texas Poetry Calendar 2014, and other journals and anthologies. She is a cofounder and consulting editor of Moon Tide Press and the author of A Thin Strand of Lights (Moon Tide Press). A speaker for various literary events, she lives in Huntington Beach, California.


  1. Oh, Rikki, this is fabulous--and so sad. I adore it!

  2. A lyrical, affecting poem,thank you.