Tuesday, February 20, 2007

My Son My Executioner

Last night, I had the privilege of attending a reading by the U.S. Poet Laureate, Donald Hall.

The Poet Laureate is almost 80, and doesn't move too quickly. He sat behind a long, narrow table covered with a white tablecloth, and occasionally, when he got involved in a poem, his foot would poke, poke, poke at it.

I enjoyed his poetry. Listening to a thoughtful, eloquent lector made me feel like I was participating in something important and mysterious, and when he finished, I felt like I'd been to church. As far as feelings go, I haven't been to church in quite a while.

Here's one of his early poems, written about his first child.

My Son My Executioner

My son, my executioner,
  I take you in my arms,
Quiet and small and just astir
  And whom my body warms.

Sweet death, small son, our instrument
  Of immortality
Your cries and hungers document
  Our bodily decay.

We twenty-five and twenty-two,
  Who seemed to live forever,
Observe enduring life in you
  And start to die together.


Richard Beck said...

Thanks for posting this poem. I've never read it before and find it amazing.

crystal said...

I like his poems. His late wife's too :-)

Rumi said...

I heard him read in 2005 or 2006, and I very distnctly remember experiencing the same feeling... of having been at church.