“Lesson” by Forrest Hamer
Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High Schools, Hosted by Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003
It was 1963 or 4, summer, and my father was driving our family from Ft. Hood to North Carolina in our 56 Buick. We'd been hearing about Klan attacks, and we knew Mississippi to be more dangerous than usual. Dark lay hanging from the trees the way moss did, and when it moaned light against the windows that night, my father pulled off the road to sleep. Noises that usually woke me from rest afraid of monsters kept my father awake that night, too, and I lay in the quiet noticing him listen, learning that he might not be able always to protect us from everything and the creatures besides; perhaps not even from the fury suddenly loud through my body about his trip from Texas to settle us home before he would go away to a place no place in the world he named Viet Nam. A boy needs a father with him, I kept thinking, fixed against noise from the dark.
from Call & Response, 1995
Alice James Books, Farmington, Me.
Copyright 1995 by Forrest Hamer.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of Alice James Books from Call and Response. Copyright 1995 by Forrest Hamer. For further permissions information, contact Alice James Books, 238 Main St., Farmington, ME 04938, [email protected]
About the Poet
Forrest Hamer (1956- ) is a poet, psychologist, candidate psychoanalyst, and a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley. Hamer is the author of three poetry collections, including Rift: Poems (Four Way Press, 2007).
Learn more about Forrest Hamer at afropoets.net.