“Night Without Words” a Sestina by Josh Martin ’16

by Tim Mossholder www.unsplash.com

by Tim Mossholder

Night Without Words

As I approach my father
lying serenely in his hospital bed,
I feel ashamed to be called his son.
What kind of father would abandon
the ones he says he loves
and look so peaceful lying there in silence?

I try to speak, but my mouth is silenced
by memories of you, my onerous father,
back when you did display your love,
your presence steady beside my bed
when I cried for you like an abandoned
child, waiting for you to save your son.

Back then, I was proud to be called your son.
Always watching you in silence,
I fooled myself into thinking you would abandon
anything that hindered you from being the best father
you could be. Now, as you lie tranquil in your sickbed
I realize there was something more you loved.

I want to get back your love,
to be able to feel like your son
and return to the time in the bed-
room when you wrestled me to silence
to show how strong you were as my father,
but weak against the thing that made you abandon

us, the family you promised to never abandon.
Despite this, I can’t say I don’t love
you. After all, you are still considered my father
and I am still considered your son.
So I sit here, weighing the silence
and watch you breathe in your sterile bed.

How can you look so contented in that bed?
Don’t you realize this child you abandoned
is in agony watching your suffering, your silence?
Wake up! Say how you miss and love
me. Tell me how proud you are to have a son
like me. I want you back, Father.

But my love can’t reach you if you stay in that deathbed.
Your abandoned son, I want to wail and scream.
Instead, I sit here in silence and stare at the man I call Father.

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One Response to “Night Without Words” a Sestina by Josh Martin ’16

  1. amahoney says:

    So inquisitve & raw & honest & beautifully powerful, Josh. The simply chosen words that are recycled through the sestina resonate with a gripping intensity in that those words & what they encompass will not let the narrator go. This wrenching intensity is balanced with the utter unresponsiviness of the dying father — a deafening silence.

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