Lay Back the Darkness
My father in the night shuffling from room to room on an obscure mission through the hallway. Help me, spirits, to penetrate his dream and ease his restless passage. Lay back the darkness for a salesman who could charm everything but the shadows, an immigrant who stands on the threshold of a vast night without his walker or his cane and cannot remember what he meant to say, though his right arm is raised, as if in prophecy, while his left shakes uselessly in warning. My father in the night shuffling from room to room is no longer a father or a husband or a son, but a boy standing on the edge of a forest listening to the distant cry of wolves, to wild dogs, to primitive wingbeats shuddering in the treetops.
From Lay Back the Darkness by Edward Hirsch Copyright © 2003 by Edward Hirsch. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Born in Chicago on January 20, 1950, Edward Hirsch is a poet and literary advocate. His second collection, Wild Gratitude (Knopf, 1986), received the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Date Published: 2003-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/lay-back-darkness