Night watch

Bailey, the fence evader. She either wants to 'go' or snuggle with you on the couch.

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.

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