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By Mary Avidano

My father, rather a quiet man,

told a story only the one time,

if even then—he had so little

need, it seemed, of being understood.

Intervals of years, his silences!

Late in his life he recalled for us

that when he was sixteen, his papa

entrusted to him a wagonload

of hogs, which he was to deliver

to the train depot, a half-day’s ride

from home, over a hilly dirt road.

Lightly he held the reins, light his heart,

the old horses, as ever, willing.

In town at noon he heard the station-

master say the train had been delayed,

would not arrive until that evening.

The boy could only wait. At home they’d

wait for him and worry and would place

the kerosene lamp in the window.

Thus the day had turned to dusk before

he turned about the empty wagon,

took his weary horses through the cloud

of fireflies that was the little town.

In all his years he’d never seen those

lights—he thought of this, he said, until

he and his milk-white horses came down

the last moonlit hill to home, drawn as

from a distance toward a single flame.


Poem copyright ©2013 by The Backwaters Press. Mary Avidano's most recent book of poems is The Zebra’s Friend and Other Poems, 2008. Poem reprinted from The Untidy Season: An Anthology of Nebraska Women Poets, The Backwaters Press, 2013, by permission of Mary Avidano and the publisher.

Poet Bio

Mary Avidano
Mary Avidano’s most recent book of poems is The Zebra’s Friend and Other Poems (2008). She earned a BA from Loyola University Chicago and lives in Nebraska. See More By This Poet
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