Some dads cast a giant shadow
While others just leave an big empty space
That a boy spends most of his life
Figuring out ways to fill
He tries on sadness for while
But tears never last for long
In such dry inhospitable ground.
Besides, the man of the house mustn't cry
Even when the man is just a boy.
So he tries on anger
And it suits him well.
He makes an ax and goes
In search of forests to fell.
It’s hard work laboring under
The searing gnaw of an acid sun
That burns his pale skin
So many times it thickens
Into a scarred bronze hide
That doesn't hurt anymore
No matter how bright it shines.
And because it doesn't hurt he keeps cutting
And the dull thud of metal against wood
Echoes rhythmically like a ticking clock
And time passes and the boy becomes man.
He begins to feel strong.
Cords of cut wood slowly
Fill the old emptiness behind him.
One day, wiping the sweat from his brow,
He notices the large dark shadow
Unfurling away from his form
And the old sadness returns.
He sees at last that
Shadows are also shade
To shield us from summer furnace
And that we can’t seek respite in the one we cast,
That someone else must protect us
When we’re young.
And so the man stops cutting.
He puts down his ax.
He takes off anger
And sits for a moment on a stump
While the sun bakes the back of his neck.
And then he sees him, his son,
Just a small boy
On the very edge of stretched darkness—
Half pale in his shadow
Half shining in the sun,
Now ready for the brunt of the brightness