May Swenson





The Seed of My Father

I rode on his shoulder. He showed me the moon.
He told me its name with a kiss in my ear.
“My moon,” I said. “Yours,” he agreed.
And as we walked, it followed us home.

Hold my hand, he showed me a tree,
and picked a peach, and let me hold it.
I took a bite, then he took a bite.
“Ours?” I asked. “Yes, our tree.”
Then with a hoe he made the water flow beside it.

When I was older he showed me the sun.
He made me a wooden wheel on a stick,
of pine wood, raw and bright as the sun.
I used to run and roll it.

A flashing circular saw was the sun,
like the one he made my wheel with.
“This little wheel belongs to me, the big one
to you?” “Yes,” he agreed, “just as we
belong to the sun.”

He let me plant the corn grains one by one
out of a long hollow slip-box thrust in the ground.
“I who plant seeds for my father,
I am the seed of my father.”

And when the corn was tall, it swallowed me up, all,
whispering over my head. “You are the seed of your father.”
And when the husks were sere, my father with a rake,
in the cold time of the year, made a bush of gold.

He struck the bush to burning for my sake.
I stood at his shoulder, a little the higher.
I was the seed of my father, my father
outlined by the fire.

He made a garden, and he planted me.
Sun and moon he named and deeded to me.
Water and fire he created, created me,
he named me into being: I am the seed of my father.

His breath he gave me, he gave me night and day.
His universe is in me fashioned from his clay.
I feed on the juice of the peach from his eternal tree.
Each poem I plant is a seedling from that tree.
I plant the seed of my father.


spoken =Dave Hoak