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To a Black Father After Fifty

When you were only fifty,candles left too much smokefor your fire to burn through,and mom’s sweet but heavy cakeclogged more than clear arteries.

Fifty is a memory for us both now,and I wonder what morethan an extra breath is requiredto be granted an aching wishfor deep years with dark glow?

I do not know.

I am beginning to understandhow birthdays leave crumbs with smiles,celebrations with tallow in the bowlnever to be with wick again,that strength and weak are all man.

So with you, I seek to cullrich stuff to fatten the light leftin our shorter but firmer stakes,to teach those watching in bare roomsto work a wish of life too full

to snuff in any single blow. [End Page 76]

Fred Hord

Fred Hord is director and professor Africana studies at Knox College. He is the author of four books of poems, including one of selected poetry, as well as poems in several major journals.