Four Poems for Fathers’ Day

My Mother is at the Bridge Table  by Leslea Newman

My mother is at the bridge table with
Loretta, Gert
and Pearl, when my father
finds his way to Heaven.

“Sit down, dear,” she says,
patting the seat beside her
and barely looking up from the hand

she’s been dealt. “The game is
almost through.” But my father is
too overcome to sit. He stands

and stares at his beloved, free
of wheelchair and oxygen tank
happily puffing away

on a Chesterfield King
held between two perfectly
manicured fingers, sipping

a cup of Instant Maxwell
House, leaving a bright red
lip print on the white china cup

her hair the lovely chestnut brown
it was the day they met,
her face free of worry

lines, the diamond pendant
he bought her on their first trip
to Europe glittering

against her ivory throat.
She looks like the star
of an old black-and-white movie
who would never give him
the time of day but somehow
spent 63 years by his side.

“I missed you,” my father
tells my mother, leaning down
to kiss her offered cheek.

“Of course you did,”
says my mother, who always
knows everything.

She plays her cards
right, and after Loretta and Pearl
and Gert fold, she stands to let

my father take her in his arms
and in their heavenly bodies
they dance

 My Father” by Yehuda Amichai

The memory of my father is wrapped up in
white paper, like sandwiches taken for a day at work.

Just as a magician takes towers and rabbits
out of his hat, he drew love from his small body,

and the rivers of his hands
overflowed with good deeds.

“Shoulders” by Naomi Shihab Nye

A man crosses the street in rain,
stepping gently, looking two times north and south,
because his son is asleep on his shoulder.

No car must splash him.
No car drive too near to his shadow.

This man carries the world’s most sensitive cargo
but he’s not marked.
Nowhere does his jacket say FRAGILE,

His ear fills up with breathing.
He hears the hum of a boy’s dream
deep inside him.

We’re not going to be able
to live in this world
if we’re not willing to do what he’s doing
with one another.

The road will only be wide.
The rain will never stop falling.


“My Father Was God” by Yehudah Amichai


My father was God and did not know it. He gave me 

the ten
commandments neither in thunder nor in fury, neither in fire nor in cloud 

in gentleness and in love. He added caresses and added kind words

 adding, “I
beg you,” and “please.” He sang “keep and remember”

 in a single melody and he
pleaded and cried quietly between one commandment and the next:

 Don’t take your
God’s name in vain; don’t take it, not in vain.

 I beg you, don’t bear false
witness against your neighbor. He hugged me tightly and whispered

 in my ear 

Don’t steal. Don’t commit adultery. Don’t murder. And he put the palms of his
open hands

 on my head with the Yom Kippur blessing. Honor, love, in order that
your days might be long

 on the earth. And my father’s voice was white like the
hair on his head. 

Later, he turned his face to me one last time

like on the day
he died in my arms and said, “I want to add

 two to the ten commandments: The
eleventh commandment: Don’t change. 

The twelfth commandment: You must surely

 So said my father and then he turned from me and went off 

into his strange distances.

“My Father was God” Translated by Rabbi Steven Sager z’l

Photo by Time Mossholder on