I’m back home again in dream or some mottled
memory of a summer night when we played
kick the can or ghost in the graveyard
until the neighborhood went dark and we made
ourselves scarce and hid in the thicket until
my father’s stern voice scared us back
to where he stood by his smoldering grill.
I remember how everything went black
except for the sycamore’s trunk, gray-white,
shimmering in the dark while my father roared
at us and I dreamed of the ghost I would become
when I could finally grow up and run
away. But now, he’s the ghost I run toward.
I hide in him, forgive him, seek his murky light.
—Joe Heithaus (Putnam County)
This poem is from Poison Sonnets (David Robert Books, 2012).
Joseph Heithaus won the “Discovery”/The Nation Prize in 2007 for a group of poems that are at the core of his first book, Poison Sonnets (David Robert Books, 2012). His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in many journals including Southwest Review, Blue Mesa Review, and Ruminate. He is a professor of English at DePauw University and lives in Greencastle, Indiana.
Poetry Prompt: Playing an Outdoor Game
Explore the significance of some outdoor game you once played, such as baseball, dodge ball, hide-and-go-seek, Mother-may-I, freeze tag, or drop-the-hankie. What significant details of setting and character do you remember? What did you hear or see or touch? What did the game mean for you then? What does it mean for you now?
Indiana Humanities is celebrating National Poetry Month by sharing a poem and prompt every day in April. Indiana Poet Laureate Shari Wagner selected these poems and wrote the prompts.