BellaOnline Literary Review
Pantheon, Rome by Lisa Shea

Table of Contents


In Their Shadow

Jefferson Rowland

Although always there, you were missing
Then you left, before boy became man and could reckon
Your disease and untimely death a manifestation
Of shame and sorrow, of failure and loneliness
Consumption in the stead of answers, help and love
Depression, your uniform

I watched and learned
And absorbed like little boys absorb their fathers
And ran, when I realized it would kill me too
Yes, you were there, but not, and you talked, but said nothing
The dullness of drink, buying you time

You, too, lost your father, young, to disease
He, too, left you, never seen again, no reckoning
Although he breathed, sat for dinner and giggled about gravy boats
The social stigma of his disease was more powerful yet
Than the disability of his disease, your father, so young yet
Your mother at his side
The necessary omnipresence belying her desire to flee
Equally subdued, absent and ashamed
Of your father, whose bearing was lost and waived
No longer witness, to me either, begging silently for touch and guidance too

Of my mother and her father, a man with no name
Not a word was uttered
He did not exist, in manner
Until I understood the need of some
To forget they were born of the flesh of men
That betray the flesh of their young
And die of a memory trick

Yea, these men did guide me, I guess
To where I am today
To ponder my reflection
That is, who I am who these men made.
And find the best of me from them
And give that to my son

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