Night watch

Bailey, the fence evader. She either wants to go wherever you're going or snuggle with you in a puppy pile.

This year I've been a part of a monthly writing group where we meet to read poems, write, and hear 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, and they travel into the underworld of grief, shame, conciliation, and reconciliation. I'll share these soon, but for now they're still ripening.

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

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

remnants. 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 home in bed. But they'll hold

vigil over the crackling meat long after we bike home.

This is what parents 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 all my son's soccer games. 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.

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