Before My Father Dreaming

Fred Arroyo

The cabin with its lights ablaze:

crooked pieces of driftwood

on the pine table, a vase

of purple and white lupine,

a glass of whiskey glowing

with the crackling birch fire.

Night rises with frog songs,

the bellowing lighthouse,

the ringing of the distant

channel markers on the edge

of this small island

just before sleep.


There are no boundaries

save the lines on maps.


There is no time

save the eye of memory.


Air liquid as the sea,

floating in that sea without a single stroke,

looking into a mirror without a face,

I am the night and I am the sea.


Blue, black, an inky drawn moon a fingertip away.

Let the cabin break from its pylons and drift

towards the shadows of midnight, as if,

in the ancient days, the whale-road might end

and slowly the earth allows us to fall over the edge

without fear, suffering, not a single good bye.

Terra del Fuego disappears.


To circle back, contrary to latitude or longitude,

enter the front door, enter unexpected,

feel once again an open palm

touch the back of your head.

Like a father standing in candlelight,

like a father walking in a cane field

machete glinting in lamp light,

like a father rowing a red boat

in the phosphorescent waters

near the shore of Arroyo,

like a father in a hospital room

holding you in his strong brown hands,

or is it you, as you drift into sleep,

holding his hand, his head lying

against a soft blue pillow, your father

approaching the last night

he will ever dream your face.


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