This year I've been a part of a monthly writing group where we meet to read poems, write, and know ourselves more deeply. Each month has a theme, and this month our theme was failure.
A bucket of poems have come in the wake of this exploration. Most of these poems have arisen from the Bone House of Grief. I call them the Grief Poems, and they travel into the underworld of grief, shame, conciliation, and reconciliation. I'll share these soon.
This particular poem came to me as my dear dog Bailey – who loves to escape from the house to roam the nearby high school campus – got out, again. In my search, I came upon some dads, holding vigil at the barbeque.
May we all feel the mercy for our failures of love. And may we all trust that our failures can be repaired. They are not the last word on us, our recovery and healing, or life.
Night watch by Karly Randolph Pitman
When my dog escapes from the fence she runs
to the high school three blocks away: fifty two
acres of ponds and fields and school lunch
scraps. Tonight I ride my bike in the early dark
looking for her black roving shape. Four fathers are
in the parking lot, cleaning up after the game. But no,
they're just arriving. They'll be here all night,
smoking the brisket for Friday's homecoming. I can
tell they want to be asleep in bed. But they'll hold
vigil over the crackling meat long after we bike home.
This is what parents do. This is what grandparents
do. This is what aunts and uncles and teachers do.
We stay up to rock the colicky baby or to wait
for the teenager to come home. Sometimes we
stay up to worry and pray.
My friend comes to my son's soccer games
because his parents never came to his, except for one
baseball game when they showed up late
and left early. We're all doing our best to repair
the failures of love. We work to give what we
didn't receive. And when we fail, as we all will do,
we'll stay up until dawn when we want to sleep,
smoking the brisket, so our children can feel the care
when they take that first bite.