NEW HAMPSHIRE SENIOR POET LAUREATE
Patricia J. Tarbox

WHAT HE TAUGHT ME

My father’s Sundays
told of children’s shoes,
four pairs like polished onyx,
warmed in a row beneath the heater.
His hands had placed them there
as squarely as they worked.

Later, in church, they held a hymnal,
as his voice beside me helped me to forget
the clang of quarters in collection plates,
the stares of wealthy Anglicans who watched his face;
his jaw, chin up, his voice ringing,
resonant with grace.

With years, my Sundays, mother-taken,
sure and gleaming as my father’s polished shoes,
found me finally at her grave.
Unable to go on, thinking no father love could save,
suddenly my father’s voice beside me rang,
“Your mother would want you to be strong.”
His words beside me,
Sunday sure.

This I knew, like Sunday grace;
my mother had taught me how to love;
my father,
his face transfigured
in the stained-glass light,
had taught me to endure.

Patricia J. Tarbox, 61, Wolfeboro, whose pen name is P. Stansfield Tarbox, is a retired English teacher who has been widely recognized as both writer and teacher. She won the 2009 Honor Scroll Award for New Hampshire. She was a finalist in the New England Association of Teachers of English Poet/Teacher of the Year Award in 1992, 1996, 1997 and 1998. Her sign is Capricorn.