Tell the Story of Your Father’s Life

by Allison Leigh DeFrees

Tell the story of your father’s life,
and your father’s father’s life,
and find your own, or find
something altogether new,
an antipodes of the expected.
Expect to find, what? A history
of habitude? A cacophony of drunks?
Shocking, to learn of hidden happinesses
swallowed by the undulating
recitation of history.
“He lost everything gambling,
and, rueful of the homeward way,
clocked himself with a 410 Winchester.”
It’s easy to tell, draws the most sighs.
But what about the lolling times,
when nothing bad, and nothing
particularly good, happened?
Decades, eras, even, gone by with
no tangible sorrow or conquest.
How can that define a human life?
Where’s the cost? And where the awe-
filled ears to listen and repeat
and nurture the story of love gone
dour or heartache bound up in
wine and exotic kisses?
History was not always heavy,
but we seek to make it so,
most fervently in our own lives.
A day drawn to a close without incident,
and what, have we lived?
If a tree falls, but not on us,
have we lived?

In Praise of One Night Stands

The small of your back is new to my hands
The words that you say are new, and not new
Not the same dew on an April morning,
but of the same lover’s hue,
of that same longing, that endless longing.
I fall for you every night.
For a different you, but you, nonetheless,
and for a night, I, too, am new,
a cloud break in the covered spaces,
a robe opening to fresh surprises,
a dilapidation with a fresh beam.
Truth spills over like little autopsies,
fingers spread like miracles
across all of my new parts,
and for an hour I am not broken.

Image used with permission from Mentality Design

Allison Leigh DeFrees is a poet and an immigration attorney living in New York City and Austin, Texas. Her past includes stints as a playwright, actor, and punk rock singer. Former jobs include bread delivery woman, horse stall cleaner, waitress, wooden boat renovator, medical malpractice lawyer, Calculus tutor, journalist, and speech writer. She likes poetry best, and in 2005 published a handbound volume of poetry, “Glass Bones.” She still carries a torch for mathematics.