Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Text by Leon Wing
Poem by Kevin Griffith


I hold my two-year-old son
under his arms and start to twirl.
His feet sway away from me
and the day becomes a blur.
Everything I own is flying into space:
yard toys, sandbox, tools,
garage and house,
and, finally, the years of my life.

When we stop, my son is a grown man,
and I am very old. We stagger
back into each other's arms
one last time, two lost friends
heavy with drink,
remembering the good old days.


Any parent who has brought up a child would concur with the sentiments in this poem, about how time flies (I know, how trite this sounds) as he grows up.

In the beginning of the first stanza Griffith uses internal rhyming (“hold”, “old”) to foreground his refusal to accept that his child is growing older. He again uses a similar manoeuvre in the next sentence, from line two to three, with “sway away” and “day”.

The juxtaposition of “sway” and “away”, especially the repeating of “way”, mimics a spinning around from one spot and coming back to it again, and again. The H, S and F sounds of “His feet” , in turn, mimic the air through which the little boy is spun around. The rush of air, with the F sound of “from” settles with the M sounds of “from me”.

The repeated AY sound of those rhymes, in “space”, also makes us see here that the days are moving away, with blurring speed, growing older, as it were. Not only are the years of his son growing up spinning away, also those of his life are doing likewise, into an expanse of growing older.

In the first line of the second stanza, Griffith uses again the settling mimicry of the M sounds of line three, here, in “grown man”. He prepares the foretaste for this with "stop" and a pause with a comma, and the M of "my".

“grown” connects to “own” in stanza one. Also, the O sound in “grown” links that in “old” of line one. This connection is confirmed when its sound is concretised in “old”, in the stanza’s second line, and underpinned by “very”. A full-stop literally stops time, and the reading breaks with a pause, as if father and son are being stopped short. Both “stagger” at a powerful run-on, practically the only one in the entire poem, to “back”, in the starting of the next line. It’s almost as if Time has granted them a return (“back”) to the “old” days, when his son was the little boy he was holding. This affords them a final embrace, a holding on to, as if they’ve found each other after being flung into the space of time, of growing.

While “two” in stanza one intimates a splitting, a separating of father and son, its use here is the reverse. There is still a splitting with the use of “two” here, but this is a good thing, as “one” becomes “two”, forging a father-son bonding. A spin-around, a twirling, each now becomes a “one”. Whatever are being lost in stanza one is made up for by being more than father and son, by being friends now.

In the penultimate line, “drink” puts one in mind of how “Everything” of the father flew into space, went “flying”, as they are “remembering”. The departing line is final with the repeating of “old” and “day”, placed side by side, like a father and son together.


Kevin Griffith teaches English as Associate Professor of English at Capital University. He is also a faculty member in the Legal Research and Writing Program at the Law School. He was awarded the Columbus Literary Award in Poetry from the Greater Columbus Arts Council and two Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist's Fellowships in Poetry.

He has published Paradise Refunded (Backwaters Press, 1999); Someone Had to Live (San Diego Poets Press, 1994); The Common Courage Reader: Essays for an Informed Democracy (Common Courage Press, 2000); and over 200 poems in journals like Chelsea and Mid-American.

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