“Meeting My Father At My Mother’s Grave: A Villanelle”

By Lloyd Shaw


I read by blood my father’s hostile stare:

My sudden presence threatens like a thief.

We share an ancient hate no words will dare.


Two wordless rivals linked by common prayer

Have locked upon their mutual field of grief.

I taste through blood my father’s bitter fate.


By undisputed will of bones I wear,

I show the token, stake my rightful claim.

We share an ancient hate no words will dare.


Yet bones cannot dispute the body bare

On which you lay and seized through me her name.

I know by blood my father’s lonely stare.


And for what frightful reason did breath spare

This lonely beaten pair who still remain?

We share an ancient fate no words will dare.


From earth her knowing spirit gasps for air,

“In grief I bind we three in common sheaf.”

I know by blood I am my father’s heir.

We share an ancient love no words will dare.