Published on Academy of American Poets (

Double View of the Adirondacks as Reflected Over Lake Champlain from Waterfront Park

The mountains are at their theater again,
each ridge practicing an oration of scale and crest,
and the sails, performing glides across the lake, complain
for being out-shadowed despite their gracious
bows. Thirteen years in this state, what hasn’t occurred?
A cyclone in my spirit led to divorce, four books
gave darkness an echo of control, my slurred
hand finding steadiness by the prop of a page,
and God, my children whom I scarred! Pray they forgive.
My crimes felt mountainous, yet perspective
came with distance, and like those peaks, once keening
beneath biting ice, then felt resurrection in a vestige
of water, unfrozen, cascading and adding to the lake’s
depth, such have I come to gauge my own screaming.
The masts tip so far they appear to capsize, keeling
over where every father is a boat on water. The wakes
carry the memory of battles, and the Adirondacks
hold their measure. I am a tributary of something greater.


Copyright © 2016 by Major Jackson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 4, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“Fathering has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and yet, like many fathers I have led an imperfect life that preceded redemption and grace. This might prove, in the end, to be my greatest gift to my children.”
—Major Jackson


Major Jackson

Major Jackson is the author of five collections of poetry, including The Absurd Man (W. W. Norton, 2020), Roll Deep (W. W. Norton, 2015), and Leaving Saturn (University of Georgia, 2002), winner of the 2001 Cave Canem Poetry Prize and a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award.

Date Published: 2016-04-04

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