Michael R. Burch

1958
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Poems about Family, Sons and Fathers, Sons and Mothers

These are poems about family, poems about sons, and poems about their mothers and fathers.



Mother’s Smile
by Michael R. Burch

for my mother, Christine Ena Burch,
and my wife, Elizabeth Harris Burch

There never was a fonder smile
than mother’s smile, no softer touch
than mother’s touch. So sleep awhile
and know she loves you more than “much.”

So more than “much,” much more than “all.”
Though tender words, these do not speak
of love at all, nor how we fall
and mother’s there, nor how we reach
from nightmares in the ticking night
and she is there to hold us tight.

There never was a stronger back
than father’s back, that held our weight
and lifted us when we were small
and bore us till we reached the gate,
then held our hands that first bright mile
till we could run, and did, then flew.
But, oh, a mother’s tender smile
will leap and follow after you!

Published by TALESetc, Famous Poets and Poems, Poems for Big Kids (anthology), Pour Femme (Italy), Victorian Violet Press, Better Than Starbucks, Promosaik (Germany), Setu (India), Korean Palmers, Borderless Journal, Lower Nicola Indian Band Newsletter, Baidu (China), Coyote Call and Care2Care; also Penguin Books Valentine’s Day Contest Winner and included in the Children of Gaza song cycle by the composer Eduard de Boer



The Long Days Lengthening Into Darkness
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

Today, I can be his happiness,
and if he delights
in hugs and smiles,
in baseball and long walks
talking about Rug Rats, Dinosaurs and Pokemon

(noticing how his face lights up
at my least word,
how tender his expression,
gazing up at me in wondering adoration)

. . . O, son,
these are the long days
lengthening into darkness.

Now over the earth
(how solemn and still their processions)
the clouds
gather to extinguish the sun.

And what I can give you is perhaps no more or less
than this brief ray dazzling our faces,
seeing how soon the night becomes my consideration.

***

The Watch
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

I have come to watch my young son,
his blonde ringlets damp with sleep . . .
and what I know is that he loves me
beyond all earthly understanding,
that his life is like clay in my unskilled hands.

And I marvel this bright ore does not keep—
unrestricted in form, more content than shape,
but seeking a form to become, to express
something of itself to this wilderness
of eyes watching and waiting.

What do I know of his wonder, his awe?
To his future I will matter less and less,
but in this moment, as he is my world, I am his,
and I stand, not understanding, but knowing—
in this vast pageant of stars, he is more than unique.

There will never be another moment like this.
Studiously quiet, I stroke his fine hair
which will darken and coarsen and straighten with time.
He is all I bequeath of myself to this earth.
His fingers curl around mine in his sleep . . .

I leave him to dreams—calm, untroubled and deep.

***

This poem was written after a surprising comment from my son, Jeremy.

The Onslaught
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

“Daddy, I can’t give you a hug today
because my hair is wet.”

No wet-haired hugs for me today;
no lollipopped lips to kiss and say,
Daddy, I love you! with such regard
after baseball hijinks all over the yard.

The sun hails and climbs
over the heartbreak of puppies and daffodils
and days lost forever to windowsills,
over fortune and horror and starry climes;

and it seems to me that a child’s brief years
are springtimes and summers beyond regard
mingled with laughter and passionate tears
and autumns and winters now veiled and barred,
as elusive as snowflakes here white, bejeweled,
gaily whirling and sweeping across the yard.

***

Transition
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

With his cocklebur hugs
and his wet, clinging kisses
like a damp, trembling thistle
catching, thwarting my legs—

he reminds me that life begins with the possibility of rapture.

Was time this deceptive
when my own childhood begged
one last moment of frolic
before bedtime’s soft kisses—

when sleep was enforced, and the dark window ledge

waited, impatient, to lure
or to capture
the bright edge of morning
within a clear pane?

Was the sun then my ally—bright dawn’s greedy fledgling?

With his joy he reminds me
of joys long forgotten,
of play’s endless hours
till the haggard sun sagged

and everything changed. I gather him up and we trudge off to bed.

***

What does it mean?
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

His little hand, held fast in mine.
What does it mean? What does it mean?

If he were not here, the sun would not shine,
nor the grass grow half as green.

What does it mean?

His arms around my neck, his cheek
snuggling so warm against my own ...

What does it mean?

If life's a garden, he's the fairest
flower ever sown,
the sweetest ever seen.

What does it mean?

And when he whispers sweet and low,
"What does it mean?"
It means, my son, I love you so.
Sometimes that's all we need to know.

***

With a child's wonder
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

With a child's wonder,
pausing to ponder
a puddle of water,

for only a moment,
needing no comment

but bright eyes
and a wordless cry,
he launches himself to fly ...

then my two-year-old lands
on his feet and his hands
and water explodes all around.

(From the impact and sound
you'd have thought that he'd drowned,
but the puddle was two inches deep.)

Later that evening, as he lay fast asleep
in that dreamland where two-year-olds wander,
I watched him awhile and smilingly pondered
with a father's wonder.

***

Always
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

Know in your heart that I love you as no other,
and that my love is eternal.
I keep the record of your hopes and dreams
in my heart like a journal,
and there are pages for you there that no one else can fill:
none one else, ever.
And there is a tie between us, more than blood,
that no one else can sever.

And if we’re ever parted,
please don’t be broken-hearted;
until we meet again on the far side of forever
and walk among those storied shining ways,
should we, for any reason, be apart,
still, I am with you ... always.

***

Miracle
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

The contrails of galaxies mingle, and the dust of that first day still shines.
Before I conceived you, before your heart beat, you were mine,

and I see

infinity leap in your bright, fluent eyes.
And you are the best of all that I am. You became
and what will be left of me is the flesh you comprise,

and I see

whatever must be—leaves its mark, yet depends
on these indigo skies, on these bright trails of dust,
on a veiled, curtained past, on some dream beyond knowing,
on the mists of a future too uncertain to heed.

And I see

your eyes—dauntless, glowing—
glowing with the mystery of all they perceive,
with the glories of galaxies passed, yet bestowing,
though millennia dead, all this pale feathery light.

And I see

all your wonder—a wonder to me, for, unknowing,
of all this portends, still your gaze never wavers.
And love is unchallenged in all these vast skies,
or by distance, or time. The ghostly moon hovers;

I see; and I see

all that I am reflected in all that you have become to me.

***

The Gift
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth and Jeremy

For you and our child, unborn, though named
(for we live in a strange, fantastic age,
and tomorrow, when he is a man,
perhaps this earth will be a cage

from which men fly like flocks of birds,
the distant stars their helpless prey),
for you, my love, and you, my child,
what can I give you, each, this day?

First, take my heart, it’s mine alone;
no ties upon it, mine to give,
more precious than a lifetime’s objects,
once possessed, more free to live.

Then take these poems, of little worth,
but to show you that which you receive
holds precious its two dear possessors,
and makes each lien a sweet reprieve.

***

To My Child, Unborn
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

How many were the nights, enchanted
with despair and longing, when dreams recanted
returned with a restless yearning,
and the pale stars, burning,
cried out at me to remember
one night ... long ere the September
night when you were conceived.

Oh, then, if only I might have believed
that the future held such mystery
as you, my child, come unbidden to me
and to your mother,
come to us out of a realm of wonder,
come to us out of a faery clime ...

If only then, in that distant time,
I had somehow known that this day were coming,
I might not have despaired at the raindrops drumming
sad anthems of loneliness against shuttered panes;
I might not have considered my doubts and my pains
so carefully, so cheerlessly, as though they were never-ending.
If only then, with the starlight mending
the shadows that formed
in the bowels of those nights, in the gussets of storms
that threatened till dawn as though never leaving,
I might not have spent those long nights grieving,
lamenting my loneliness, cursing the sun
for its late arrival. Now, a coming dawn
brings you unto us, and you shall be ours,
as welcome as ever the moon or the stars
or the glorious sun when the nighttime is through
and the earth is enchanted with skies turning blue.

Keywords/Tags: family, families, son, sons, father, fathers, mother, mothers
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