To My Fathers.

Photo: Sarah Buthmann

Our ego is so hollow, so fractured, that it needs more than one father figure.


You leave your room at the tip of the morning. Walk out to the wilderness. Hands carried you, shaped you, slapped you, shook you. With no reason in sight, you listened to well-intended guidance… well-intended and, very, stubborn guidance.

Oh, Father, you replaced the womb with armor. Father, you colored the sky with grey. 

The glow and warmth and comfort from a mother’s weary arms. Strong, back then, so strong. Now, weaker and weaker. Oh, Mother, where have you gone? Why are you reliving memories that were? Mother, I remember your voice, with shiver and shine in an ear canal in the chapel of my heart. And I glance at my father. And another. And the final one. Men and boys and such have created father figures. All that matured them… and, often, misled them.

Men are such bewildered creatures. So bewildered that they need more than one father figure. And here I stand. In the wilderness hungry for a mother’s womb and an armor tired by past regret. Here I am. Bewildered and hungry for someone to wipe away the grey from the sky that covers my aging head. I keep in mind sound advice, sound experience from my three fathers, some faded in memory. Now written for me to remember. These fathers are egotistical, maniacal, and have shreds of self-delusion. But we can’t choose the voice that penetrates the bubble. Here’s to my three wicked father figures. This is isn’t about love nor pity nor self-regret. It’s just about, well, shallow wisdom.

The Physicist
In the tunnel of memory, I see a young boy riding a Morris. He’s me and I am—still—him. The physicist—a former friend of my father’s—is at the driver’s seat. We talk about that this particular car, in Britain, has a wheel on my side. I couldn’t really believe it: a fictitious driving wheel on my side. Roads, open and cluttered, were a big part of our thing, the whole all-knowing mentor and ill-witted pupil dynamic, going places. Talks flourished complicated by his stubborn ego and my self-esteem flawed by early puberty; I talked about my crushes, he lended advice left little to suggestion. All concerning taking risks. But I was the introvert child. My armor was too thin for the world and the school yard where my girlish crush played. I visited his lab. A world of science was exposed to a godless child in one of the many hallways of the Danish Space Institute. Hidden away from the busy, society rushing to escape wisdom. Herein lied some other, tangible wisdom. Knowledge of the fabrics of the universe. Well, it was to big for a kid obsessed with a school-crush. But, nevertheless, monumental. Our talks inspired me. Shaped and roughened a young mind. I still talk to him – in that very, racing tunnel. The conversation continues. With me playing both parts, mentor and pupil. Exhausting. Tiring. Inspiring. I don’t miss my puberty years nor do I miss my twenties. But I miss that moment—from time to time.

There’s no point in fighting it. Life is beautiful that way. The art of letting go can be an enjoyable art.

The Bartender
Crude is the counter on which the shimmering drink is being stirred. Punched. Shaken. The pearls of candlelight reflection glitters once a lonely glass, now a pedestal of truth. A silent symposium of grapes all voicing its irrational purpose in my head. I would visit this old bartender from time to time. There was an energy. An energy that shone like a star just before it’s turned off into darkness of space. A flow of voices resting their chords on heavy strings and words turned the bar into a dirty chapel of music. We would talk about the weather, but, it would resemble ex-gamblers talking about the tracks: What the weather would bring of women, of guests, of circumstance. An exchange of punchlines but also admission of guilt of past sins—mostly on my part. The counter was my booth, and the bartender was the fallen priest. And potentiel gravedigger. His voice was coarse and delivered with a punch. And with its many one-liners the outline of a father figure would occur. Inevitable because of the age difference. Inevitable because there was an heir of cool in all that darkness. Illusions, yes, but illusions serve a purpose. I continue the conversation, rarely. One of the talks would be, what a dent Cohen left in the universe. But silence is on the ether end.

I hear that that energy still shines from time to time. I wouldn’t know. A relationship whatever its premise only has steam for some time. And then circumstance kicks in. There’s no point in fighting it. Life is beautiful that way. The art of letting go can be an enjoyable art.

The Writer
The writer. Before anything else. Secondly, my father. In the tunnel of memory, there’s a blur of fortunate ones: arms carrying me above a fence, a distant competition when I became a writer, music under a North-African sky, an artist’s home with fumes thickened by marihuana, and I could go on. He took me to my first poetry reading and my first bar. In the beginning the gravity couldn’t be understood nor appreciated. But the kindness of nostalgia added the much needed reason. The world is unkind. Memories do bring kindness to the world, among a few other things.

In the wake of time and all there is. What’s left is my father, not a father figure. The flesh and blood, not the idea. That’s how it is with fathers. They’re absent and then, utterly, present. Male ego is hollow. But it can raise monuments. Be they words or buildings, chapels or ideas. With my pen his hand is there. Now my father, the writer, is a grand-father paving the way for someone else. That’s just how this world turns. When the last thing we want to do is let go, we’re forced to. Over and over again. Until the curtain falls and clear the stars from our eyelids. What’s next, no one knows. But if it’s a reunion with all my fathers then it’s OK. But a reunion with past lovers would be preferable.


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