I remember you upon the barren bed,
the sterile, brisk sounds and endless needles   
and that quiet, gentle smile you gave me.

How could a wistful boy of twelve gaze out
from the eyes of a struggling, dying man?
I saw you on that day, all ages past and future -

My father who held me, read to me on summer nights 
who understood the silent girl, his second self
as she stood in lonely thought at six.

Have I been waiting? Waiting for someone
who would know me as you did? Patient goodness
poured into my soul and heart, and loneliness.

Is this the tenderness I seek and long for?
Is this the tenderness from which I run?
Will I ever have the courage to give myself
this grace of loving you gave me long ago?

© 2001 J.L.Stanley