Taxonomy of the Oaks

Here is another Monday’s Poem of the Week, dealing with the always complicated subject of father/son relationships viewed through the lens of the natural world. No one ever gets it quite right; all we can do is strive to do our best.

Taxonomy of the Oaks

I push my father’s chair

Around the home

Streets named “Halcyon” and “Reminiscence”

He spots a squirrel on the tree and grunts

I am learning about the oaks

Leaves, barks and acorns

The squirrel climbs the wrinkled hide of the chestnut oak

Looking for a hooded fruit

He was a professor of glands

Patients by daylight

Papers and grants in the darkness

Rats in midnight cages

His left leg points straight like a prow

Toward a pin oak

Cultivar with tiny acorns

Needles at the tip of each finger of the hand

He is humbled now by time.

But then! The prestigious memberships

The winter grapefruit from grateful patients

The lectures named in his honor

I was a sullen and disrespecting son

Resented standing in the shadow

Hobbled myself

In defiance of his grandeur

Now we are companionable in the shade

Crunching the acorns of a northern red oak

With my feet and his wheels

He gasps as the pace quickens downhill

I tense my biceps and pull us back to a crawl

He relaxes back in his seat and sighs

We move on together now like a prayer

Black oak, swamp white oak, laurel oak, amen

  • Milton Joel Goodman, MD
This entry was posted in America, Children, Family, Fathers and Sons, Love, Poetry, Relatioships, Thoughts & Musings. Bookmark the permalink.

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