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Where I Am Going/Where I Have Been

02 April, 2015: Where I Am Going/Where I Have Been


by Larry Smith
Where I Am Going/Where I Have Been
Outside the mill gate
I wait for my dead father
to come out and raise his arm
in salute to the fifteen years
since we last spoke.

He will be wearing his brakeman’s clothes
dark jacket and pants shedding dirt,
his work gloves folded inside his cap.

And I will glide the car forward,
wave to his tired but smiling face,
and he will open the door and get in.

Wordless we will drive along the river,
the car’s engine the only voice.

At the traffic light before the bridge
we will read each other’s faces,
touch the space inside our hearts.

His hands will be rough and will read like maps
all the way home.

“Where I Am Going/Where I Have Been” by Larry Smith, from A River Remains: Poems. Word Tech Editions, 2006. Used with permission of the author.

Larry Smith is a poet, novelist, biographer and reviewer. He edits and directs publications at Bottom Dog Press in Huron, Ohio. A native of the industrial Ohio River Valley, he taught writing and literature at Firelands College of Bowling Green State University. He and his wife Ann live along the shores of Lake Erie in Huron. His most recent book is Lake Winds: Poems. Bottom Dog Press, 2014.


Write about an event from a special day.

Look up the year that one of your parents was born on Wikipedia and write a poem about an event that took place then.
Jacqueline Balyer
Love this poem by Larry Smith. It speaks to the relationship he and his father experienced. Very moving.
4/4/2015 2:49:26 AM

Diane Kendig
Catherine, I love what you did with this prompt.
4/3/2015 11:32:18 AM

C Russell
Lovely and a bit sad.
4/3/2015 6:37:21 AM

Tricia Knoll
This is a lovely poem. Good work.
4/2/2015 3:26:11 PM

I love how today's recommended library book - Poems That Make Grown Men Cry - pairs so well with today's poem. Larry Smith's poem left a lump in my throat.
4/2/2015 10:49:16 AM

READ + WRITE: 30 Days of Poetry is a collaboration between Cuyahoga County Public Library and poet Diane Kendig. Our thanks go to Diane and the poets of Northeast Ohio who allowed us to share their poetry.