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Father, was the price too high?



History accosts him with the nothing

of childhood he could have done differently,

caught by father in a web of conniving for money,

clever methods for work, but he knew,

got smarter as he aged, sold his knowledge, his charm

became a word and brushstroke warrior of defiant freedom

not for father but in spite,

bold for his people, his children,

against other fathers who would not.


Now afar, he craves Jerusalem, sensuous city seized and torn,,

she bled through his veins, bound him to her,

his home where he is not allowed to return,

punishment for refusing to be silent,

           A cost too great?

Skeleton bones rattle in with every step he takes

as he talks over business with his son, he feels

the ache of those years where war against war, its demand,

its seduction, took from him a grave toll, his son, a daughter, his family.


He burns with unanswerable questions

could he have done it differently? Did he do it again? Sell

himself, this time to flight, to safety, to promised freedom,

           Did I, father?

in ‘this land of the free, home of the brave’ where he still craves

freedom, the past sears his memory into ash, blows it

across fecund black earth, cool, quiet, safe,

           Am I doing it again, father?

           is the price once more, too great?

invisible under the fascinating mask he wears, the scars

throb faithfully reminding, history is what he made,

and history married him to the destiny of his people

where each vow could have been a thousand others.

He lays in this lost midnight, awake, feeling the pulse

of the past pounding in his body

praying the price is not his soul.

Sharon Lopez Mooney, "Father, was the cost too high?", from NewVerse News, ed. James Penha,  online, Dallas Texas, May 2021

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