It has been a long time since I drove a tractor, but I could still do it—thanks to my father, who let me (oldest of nine children) follow him around the farm. I’ve tried to chronicle that disappearing way of life in my books, First Words (2010) and After Words (2013)—both published by Red Dragonfly Press. Altogether I have had five books published (with my sixth—Modern Love & Other Myths—due out this Spring) as well as chapbooks, poems in many anthologies and journals, and on the radio. I am currently the Minnesota Poet Laureate and teach at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota.
Editor's Note: Many thanks to the author for letting me print this beautiful life-affirming poem.
The Come Back
—for my father—
He was eighty-seven, and one day he
made a wrong step on an icy sidewalk
and he fell, breaking his hip. It was just
past dawn, and he'd gone out to put some wood
in the furnace that heated the house. Down
on his hands and knees, he crawled across
the yard but couldn't climb the steps or yell
loud enough to wake the sleepers sleeping
in their warm rooms, so he pounded against
the side of the house, and they found him there.
After that, it was just a matter of repair,
repair. The ice melted; the days grew warm
and green. He learned to walk again, to lift
each foot as in a dance—each step a gift.
Credits: "The Come Back" by Joyce Sutphen, from After Words. © Red Dragonfly Press, 2013.
Reprinted with permission. (buy now). 'The Come Back was also published on The Writer's Almanac, 2014
©2015 Joyce Sutphen