by Robert L. Porter, Jr.
My Head On His Chest
to my father
I’d hasten to pull a book from the shelf
And rush to lie down and snuggle myself
Against dad’s arm and his chest just so,
While he’d read aloud and off we’d go
To adventures wild or explorer’s quest —
When I’d rush to lay my head on his chest.
He fashioned at once a dreaming place,
Where a boy could float in thoughtful space,
Imagining his living the hero’s life,
Sweating and straining through every strife.
No doubt in my mind that my dad read best
In those days when I’d lay my head on his chest.
He had a way of choosing the things,
Romantic in nature with “rememberings,”
Where the author had lessons and morals to tell,
As dad taught me truths of life so well.
I remember them yet — my dad’s bequest,
When I’d find that comfortable place on his chest.
Then there were the poems he’d read to me:
“Out to Old Aunt Mary’s” — and “Elegy” —
And others he’d quote with inflections rare,
Relating the sorrows and feelings there,
‘Til tears would come that he could not hide
From his knowing son who lay at his side.
I’d almost forgotten the fun it had been
To lie there and look upside down at his chin;
While he spoke with his ”Basso Profundo” so mellow,
And occasionally used a tremendous bellow
To effectively make his point with zest
For that sleepy son’s head that lay on his chest.
Oh please, silenced dad, read aloud once more,
As you did in that simple life before.
Transport me again to that story land,
Where worries ceased and cares were banned.
Bring me your love, that protected rest,
When I softly settled my head on your chest.
For I miss you, dad, so painfully now
And long to lay my wrinkling brow
Upon your chest, let my arms enfold you
And tell you the words I never told you:
How I was so lucky, so heaven-blessed
To have learned and been loved — with my head on your chest.