Boxed in by a solid oak frame,
Staring with inscrutable gaze
From my aunt’s faded flower print.
He is not the imperious patriarch.
He neither intimidates into silence,
Nor beckons with benevolent gaze
This small collection of name-bearers.
How often I sat at the table as a child
Staring at those eyes squinting at the light,
Head cocked as if hearing an inner voice,
One he never seems quite able to place.
Maybe it is our faces he strains to see,
The timber of our voices he leans to hear.
What to make of this new breed of Kansans.
He appears perpetually to withhold judgment.
As judges go, he’s not a gavel beater,
But he’s Kansas shrewd, taking us all in.
In cases involving imposters, you see,
Looks don’t cut it. Nor voices.
Rather some indefinable tilt of the head.
The glacial drift of conversation.
A beckoning of ancient blood.
A quality of silence.
~ Thomas Reynolds
Thomas Reynolds is an associate English professor at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, and has published poems in various print and online journals, including New Delta Review, Alabama Literary Review, Aethlon-The Journal of Sport Literature, The MacGuffin, Flint Hills Review, and Prairie Poetry. Woodley Press of Washburn University published his poetry collection Ghost Town Almanac in 2008. His chapbook The Kansas Hermit Poems was published in 2013.
Guest editor: Denise Low, 2nd Kansas Poet Laureate, is author of twenty-five books, most recently Mélange Block (Red Mountain Press, Santa Fe). Low is past president of the Associated Writers and Writing Programs board of directors. Cream City Review nominated her fiction for a Pushcart Prize, 2014. She writes articles, blogs, and reviews; and she co-publishes a small press, Mammoth Publications. She teaches private professional workshops as well as classes for Baker U. Her MFA is from W.S.U. and Ph.D. is from K.U. She has British Isles, German, and Delaware Indian heritage. See more: www.deniselow.net http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/denise-low http://deniselow.blogspot.com
One thought on “Name Bearers by Thomas Reynolds”
I often gaze at my maternal grandparents’ wedding picture, he seated, she standing with her had on his shoulder. I often wonder, as you have so well said in this poem, what they are thinking in that picture. It was taken before the nine children, eight of whom survived, were born and way before I was born. This poem captures the essence of the photograph.