Father’s Day: Love of a Father Who Has Passed, by USA Poet Laureate, Donald Hall

Donald Hall is our most recent Poet Laureate of the United States. He has lived on a farm in New Hampshire most of his years. He’ll be 79 now. One of his poetry books, ‘The Painted Bed’ is about the marriage bed, and his life with Jane Kenyon, the poet. Another book, ‘Without,’ is about his loss of Jane, who was 20 years his junior and whom he nursed through leukemia until she died. The book, ‘Without,’ is written in such detail, and such love, it sets on its ear the rank pop notion that men are without feeling and cannot say more than ‘Arg.’ Many can say more. Much more.

When Donald Hall’s father died, he said he wrote immediately about his father’s passing, but that the poem took 17 years to complete. The poem was waiting…… for something. One day as Mr. Hall was walking along on the land, not at all thinking about his father, two phrases came into his mind: ‘White apples… the taste of stone.’ He knew immediately, these words belonged in his father poem, and once placed, he would have said what was in his heart to say about his father’s passing. Here is the poem from the grown son to the father who has passed:

WHITE APPLES

when my father had been dead a week

I woke

with his voice in my ear

I sat up in bed

and held my breath

and stared at the pale closed door

white apples and the taste of stone

if he called again

I would put on my coat and galoshes

 

- Donald Hall, “White Apples and the Taste of Stone”

Author: DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist