My Father’s Self-Portraits

on his Piscean road
to Emmaus to pierce

Kleio’s veil (and all other
linear time illusions)

to comprehend the Nature
beneath nature, the Word

beneath words, his Tao-fish heart
double-frames found impressions:

morning mist steaming
off frozen Silver Lake

affirms fire’s deeper breath;
Canada Geese (warmed

by thermal eiderdown)
brooding over the peach-pink

sun within them find kindled
the sunrise over near-tundra shores

as above, so below;

South Pacific ‘Gooney Birds’
(flocking to test their landing gear

on sand-constructed island
airport runways) speak

to Navy officers –
a little foolishness can’t hurt

we liberate within you
the simply divine fool;

then there’s me kissing
the wrinkle in time crossing

the black Labrador’s
forehead to seal our

friendship – we are blessed
and bewildered, aren’t we?

there’s also me kissing
my cousin blowing out his fourth

birthday cake candles –
a double exposure

featuring great uncles, aunts
and proud grandparents

surrounding us like
smiling specters from a thin place –

a gap in the fossil record
made manifest, the candle light

in their glasses saying,
We are and we are with you!

then there’s another
double exposure

of me in my highchair
kissing a daffodil

back-grounded by the site
of new Mayo architecture –

earth calls us to incarnate;

guiding a live goat-powered
wagon to school, he who nurtures

newborn lambs learns nature’s
first divine language and advice:

surveil Polaris – the shine
that points your right way –

do not judge others to keep
your liberated place;

lessoned by Daedalus
and Babe Ruth (major

players in his lineage)
he blesses his daughter through

Babe’s adage written below
her runaway bunny

five-year old photographed feet: 
It is the number of times

you make it home safely that counts
(remember Polaris is home)

maybe she would, maybe she wouldn’t

EDITOR’S NOTE: This poem was selected from entries submitted to our Creative Challenge Series #3: Last Sentences, which required that the last sentence in the text must be used as given. Read other Creative Challenge winners. To find out how to participate, go to Creative Challenges.


M. Ann Reed is a contemplative scholar, poet, Chinese calligrapher-brush painter and professor of English Literature and Theory of Knowledge. She has taught in Malaysia, Ukraine, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and China. Her postdoctoral research studies the mending arts of Early Modern English and Contemporary Poetry. Her Chinese calligraphy and brush paintings have been exhibited in Portland, Oregon and at the Shenzhen Fine Arts Museum in China. Her poems have been published in various literary journals.



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