Singing toward Downingtown

(for my son)

There is a window that I pass
Each morning on my schoolward ride.
The young sun backs off from its glass
As though it could not get inside
Where one I love above the many
Studied once and made his bed.
I do not know what life, if any,
Reads and sleeps there now instead.
Some seven years have made boys men
Since he got up and went away
And he would never come again
Though I would come the same each day.
I never look up at the place
But feel a gripping sorrow climb
Because such things still stand in space
But are no longer there in time.

–January 3, 1994

(“Singing toward Downingtown” appeared in the February/March 1999 issue of Blind Man’s Rainbow, Erie PA.)


When I became separated and divorced, I thought I might never see my children again. As it turned out, I did, but I missed sorely having them daily in the same house with me as they were growing up. And so, when my son entered the college where I taught and during his freshman year lived in a room in the gatehouse just down the main drive of the campus from the office where I worked late at night, it gave me something of the ambiance of living with my family again. He left after his freshman year, and once again, as in the days before his arrival, a feeling of homelessness hummed through my life like a melancholy base chord. Day after day on my way to and from work, I drove below the window to what had been his room in the gatehouse, and each time I was stricken with the sense of the loss of something incredibly meaningful and not recapturable. “Singing toward Downingtown” is about that sense of loss, a loss whose description in the last stanza is prefigured by the pun on “sun”/”son” in the third line of the first stanza. Downingtown is where my son was living at the time I wrote the poem.

Published on October 11, 2006 at 2:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

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