Steve Nickman: “What My Father Built”

What My Father Built

A nine-plank bridge,
a waterfall for boasting
bullfrogs, irises by the lake,
thrushes’ song.

At sunset he’d clear the table.
Once my mother said Perhaps
Herr Doktor might consider
doing the same at home.

Quiet, he left the cottage
down stone steps to the limestone
rock like a surfacing submarine
lapped by fishing boats’ wake.

He stood on his private
island, gazed into
lowering western sun,
gazed away from us.

I stood unseen
behind him just yards away,
troubled by his sulk,
his not wanting to be seen.


Steve Nickman lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, and takes part in Poemworks: The Workshop for Publishing Poets. He is a psychiatrist and works mainly with kids, teenagers, and young adults. He has a strong interest in the experiences and dilemmas of adoptees and their families, and is working on a book about therapy, The Wound and the Spark. Steve’s poetry is forthcoming or has recently appeared in Nimrod, Summerset Review, Tar River, Tule Review, and JuxtaProse.

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