Working Late

A light is on in my father's study.
"Still up?" he says, and we are silent,
looking at the harbor lights,
listening to the surf
and the creak of coconut boughs.

He is working late on cases.
No impassioned speech! He argues from evidence,
actually pacing out and measuring,
while the fans revolving on the ceiling
winnow the true from the false.

Once he passed a brass curtain rod
through a head made out of plaster
and showed the jury the angle of fire--
where the murderer must have stood.
For years, all through my childhood,
if I opened a closet . . . bang!
There would be the dead man's head
with a black hole in the forehead.

All the arguing in the world
will not stay the moon.
She has come all the way from Russia
to gaze for a while in a mango tree
and light the wall of a veranda,
before resuming her interrupted journey
beyond the harbor and the lighthouse
at Port Royal, turning away
from land to the open sea.

Yet, nothing in nature changes, from that day to this,
she is still the mother of us all.
I can see the drifting offshore lights,
black posts where the pelicans brood.

And the light that used to shine
at night in my father's study
now shines as late in mine.

by Louis Simpson

Other poems of SIMPSON (19)

Comments (5)

Wonderfully evocative, Mr Simpson weaves a rich work based on the childhood memories and crafts a fine work of a poem. A good poem and a fine storyteller. Something to aspire to when writing.
There is a lot here. Quite worthy of the read.
A beautiful poem rich in rhythm and rhyme. Thanks for sharing it here.
The poet has drawn an excellent pen-portrait of his father and the mother in such a way that it becomes unforgettable. Amazing poem.
To the open sea! Thanks for sharing this poem with us.