My Father’s Voice

Susan J. Erickson


The air is full of fragments of lives.
We breathe in spider legs, skin and dead stars,
create mosaics so exquisite they exist
only for a nanosecond or less.

We breathe in pollen, plankton and dead stars.
The scientists measure these in parts per million.
Even for a nanosecond or less,
I’d like to inhale the skin of my father’s voice.

Scientists measure things in parts per million.
Such precision is only one way of knowing—
not a way to touch the skin of my father’s voice.
The moth wings of memory are fragile.

Precision is only one kind of knowing.
The fragrance of red cedar shavings endures
though the moth wings of memory are fragile.
Be content to feel their brush in sleep.

If I recall the fragrance of red cedar shavings
can I extend the half-life of happiness?
Will I be content to feel its brush in sleep
and graft all its cells indelibly with mine?

Perhaps there is no half-life for happiness,
just an exquisite mosaic that exists,
grafted indelibly onto our cells,
in air full of the fragments of life.


Susan J. Erickson’s collection of poems, in women’s voices, Lauren Bacall Shares a Limousine, won the Brick Road Poetry Prize. Susan lives in Bellingham, Washington, where she helped establish the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Walk and Contest. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Rattle, Crab Creek Review, Verse Daily, Sliver of Stone, The Fourth River and Terrain.


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