My Father Is Still King Here

He stalks the shallows slowly,
already with a buck despite his pace,
the way his leg suffers behind him.

We pass the birch that once caught fire,
lightning having chosen it. The trunk
was good as dead, but still he hauled

his body up the ladder I wouldn’t climb
into such smoke and stubbornness.
This coastline bristles with the trees

he’s tended endlessly;
they’re grand with autumn now,
the last leaves brush his back.

I keep my head bowed low—
the wind is testing us. He bends
and lifts a crab out of the rocks,

holding it against the dusk
like some small ward of frantic life,
so desperate, so like defiance in his hand.

JOHN LUNDBERG’s poetry has appeared in Poetry, VQR, New England Review, The Threepenny Review, The Southern Review and other journals. He lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.