Our Father

Joseph O’Brien

His head is weathered to the rain-greyed granite you can find
Bald and cropping the turf on any old Irish hillside. His eyes, in kind,
Are as hazel as the bay of Galway’s own self.

His smile, though, is straight from a Hoboken bar,
Arresting you with the no-nonsense laugh a Jersey City cop lives for 
As he asks you, almost prayerfully, to put up your hands.

His walk is as sure as the stride of the world’s wide and busy road
And comes out to meet your own more than half-way 
On his way to greeting his barrow-load of day.

His anger has the force of a sky—dark, irresistible, torrential—
And just as well springs a rainbow from your own will
After the storm has passed.

His axioms and principles he makes yours—neither to be chosen 
Nor adopted, but a legacy delivered, as certain
As his coffee is never anything but black.

His faith is your daily bread, a literal leavening
Of the mundane with winking candles at early morning Mass
And impatient frustrations confessing his own 
(and the world’s) weaknesses.

His hope is the extra few dollars he slipped in your back-
Pocket before a ball game, a hope cheering, whether at your 
wood’s crack 
Or the singing sting of your palm’s hard leather.

His love is fully Irish, full of uncalculated reserve
Simmering in expressive silence, probing at a nostalgic nerve—
Yet as simple and fulfilling as a potato crop.

His story is Brian Boru, the one brief lesson in victory
That raises life from a period to the celebrated apostrophe
He taught you to carry in your name, a peerage once bequeathed 
and every day to be earned.

He comes from the kingdom of Fatherhood, he its watchman 
with eyes marshaling green, long-
Striding on his kissing good-nightly rounds from room to room, 
Even as your own take a fuller measure of this, his realm:

A place where love’s a box on the ear with room to grow,
Where belief is heaven’s weekly allowance for the daily chore of 
here and now;
A place you someday hope to live but could never hope to replace.