My Son’s Philosophy Books
Sitting next to my son’s books,
I feel their heft and the heat inside them.
So many words trying for exactly what we want to say.
If books were easy, we would never burn them.
My father’s words were few
but he had a thousand ways to curse the Russian thistles.
They grew big and round when nothing else would.
Dried and broken loose in Autumn
they rolled with the wind against the nearest fence.
The thistles always won.
Some years we burned them, a fierce and fast fire.
My father ran from pile to pile,
a heap of flaming thistles on the end of his pitchfork.
I ran beside him, flames crackling in my ear.
Someplace among the burning
I felt he loved me.
Someplace beside these books
I feel the words catch fire, my son’s eyes begin to glow.
If love was easy,
we’d forget how to burn thistles.
— Gary Whited, 2012