My two sons and I play guitar
in the back yard shade of an old maple tree
on a day so hot it wilts fence posts.
Making the most of the shade,
a bit of a breeze eases our way now and then
while the kids play slow games in the grass.
This time of day passes too quickly:
shades of color from a dying sun
soften the silhouettes of hickory and oak,
ash and gum in the woods out past
the gray-weathered sides of a black-lined tobacco barn.
Ripening wheat the height of a man’s chest
rests bearded grains on long slender stems
in the field that hems the yard.
While the older kids shoot arrows toward the weeds,
the two-year-old dances to a faster beat of folk and bluegrass,
head bobbing, arms shaking and feet thumping against the dirt.
Dan romps on the deep Conga while Jeremiah and I
keep time on the acoustic guitars
and even the kids join the singing
and something that feels like music
moves through the stems and branches.
The last lonely part of the day
fades away until all that’s left
is a sweet, soothing sense
of truly being together
in a way that makes you believe
that your best imagining of what family could be like
is playing out right before your eyes
while the sky eases into dusk
and the darkness comes as gently as a soft sigh
and you finally find that three-note harmony
in a song you’ve sung a hundred times before.
Even in the deepening tones of a humid night
and something as random
as a lightning bug’s soft blinking
You know that an evening like this
never truly ends
and your heart whispers its own vespers
in a voice and tone
known only through a Father’s Love.