So…. I have watched each of you sleep,
tasted the perfect bloom
of your sweet Child breath,
thought of myself
as your great protector,
the keeper of precious fragile flames.
I chastise myself as I watch you awaken
into the dawn of your youth,
into the embrace of young adulthood.

I listen to your stories
as told one to the other and others,
your voices pure and beautiful
as fine silk,
texture my ears may touch.

As I listen, I know you have suffered,
been staggered by sullen blows of doubt.
I know you have been afraid of me,
your father,
that I might come crashing
through those doubting walls,
to discover you
with the ghosts of your imperfections.

In the night, voices do speak to me,
the tiny ones of those of you
who have come to go
and those who are still here
but grown past the Child whispers
I aspire to hear.
I answer them
with selfish humble tears in my eyes and sympathy
for what has passed in my breathing,
for they are the protectors
of my imperfections.
I tell myself I have done my job well,
for you need me less now
than ever before
and never as much as I imagined
in the feeble throes
of my attempts at perception.
The far echoes of tiny voices
ring down the spiral canyon of my years.
They speak to me
in the perfect symmetry of Childhood wisdom.
They fairly embrace me to stand.

There are those who say I talk to myself.
They are right, of course,
for you are myself,
the very one I was addressing,
the one I have become.
I may answer a question from a score
of years gone by and by as I watch
my daughter with her daughter
or my son making words to speak
to a brother twelve years his junior.

I am your father,
that is all I am… compleat.
You give me the strength of your pride,
the beautiful revelation
of the knowledge of our shared imperfections,
through it all,
carry me to a place of unconditional devotion,
love without fear, lighting candles
in the dark corners of my soul.

I am made to be free, a man.
You have been
and remain the perfect sentinels of my journey.
If I come to see beyond the shadow,
If I come to walk into and through the fire,
If I come to feel, to love and be loved,
If I father.

Author: Tom Sterner-Howe

The author is widely published online and in print. He has won the Marija Cerjak Award for Avant-garde/Experimental Writing 2002, 2002 & 2003. His novel, “Madman Chronicles: The Warrior” ISBN# 1-59286-793-6, may be previewed at his website:, e-mail: