The Good Fathers
Our bodies painted red by the dawn sky,
our hair stuck
up in cockscombs from sleeping,
we two snuck down to the rowboats.
wobbled across the lake toward the lily ponds
to gather blooms for our
mothers. What a big boy!
What a big girl! they would exclaim upon our
We tugged up the white blush flowers with roots so long,
bottom of our boat was filled to the bow.
And as we turned toward home the
Then fog threw back its hood and roared; and we rowed.
waves turned black, and we rowed.
We lost first one oar and then the other;
and we cried out,
Our thin night clothes stamped with cowboys and
went transparent like tattoos all over our pale blue
we cried out, Mother! Father! God! Help us!
As Death put its hands over
our eyes, suddenly the fog
was pierced. Leaping and bucking came
battered wooden boat filled with four phantoms,
rowing and rowing like
their faces distorted by rain and rage, eight oars
roiling waters over and over,
and they were calling out our names,
over the storm, Hold on! Hold on! We are coming
Vessel crashed into vessel, and big wet hands flailed
two wraiths of the lake rolled into our boat.
They hooked oars into iron
stocks, tethered the boats,
and we crouched beneath the phantom rowers
as they rowed, cursing words we did not know,
as they rowed through
the heavy drapes of rain and
and with every hit of swash, lilies
floating and drowning in the spume behind us.
when at last our vessels ran into the soft slough,
and the rain went
the gray-faced phantoms grabbed us up, snagging
roots and green-heart leaves
and dangling white lilies as well.
in arms they strove up the howling hill,
holding us hard against their bony
shielding our faces with their hands.
And then finally, in the
sudden heat from the open door
they bowed their heads like horses, offering
held out like armfuls of heavy wild bouquets,
-- two trembling
children covered with broken
delivered into the arms of the
When I dream of that time so long ago, though in
intervening, there would be at least one long year
of silence, one
of forgetfulness, and
one of forgiveness, even so -- in that one
of fog and rain and waves, these flares remain lit --
who rowed the boat,
who climbed the hill,
who carried us toward home
the uncles, the brothers, the
who despite their imperfections,
did not forsake The Heart of God
that is, a child stranded in the storm --
these souls, all of them,
now anointed forever
with the waters from the tempests they have
now anointed forever by the fragrance of the wild lilies
have, with great effort, carried up from out of the
-- Clarissa Pinkola Estés
The Bad Fathers
The first worst thing
I ever heard a man
came from a father who
had raped his little six year old son.
The father said the boy had ...asked to be raped,
child ...was acting
running around in his
showing his legs
This was the
the very worst.
I have never come closer
to giving a death
and asking for the world
to be destroyed,
and for God
never recreating the world,
The second worst thing,
equal to the first worst
I ever heard a father say was,
Yes, I hit my boy
until he was like a rat
beat to jelly.
Thats the way you do
He thought if he caused pus
to leak into his boys
it would freeze into something
I can hardly write
on this page
these two fathers said.
But, they bear writing,
so that any
that this kind of father
is not only dead mad,
also dead wrong,
so that children
might know that they
never meant to be
a donor child
for either parent,
under any circumstances
to be a blood sacrifice to, of, or for, the
to, of, or for, any nation;
to, of, or for, any unjust
To the sons and daughters of parents
devoured by such demons,
Listen to me --
a father who believes these
is sick to the very core.
Sick beyond belief.
What these parents say,
is not only not true,
it is not even true
--Clarissa Pinkola Estés
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National Catholic Reporter, May 10,