Alice O. Howell   

The Father:  Aegeus prays for Theseus


                        Like all fathers

            I shall seat myself

                        upon the high cliffs of expectation

            to watch the black sails of my hope and anguish

                        set forth to unknown transits

            beyond my dreams and reaching -

                        bone and blood

                              son of my giving

                                    sired in a time of promise

                                    fruit of a night of needing

                                    fair in my sight and sturdy

            to hand you my all, my all

                        the trust of future days and other triumphs!


                                                Here at cliff's edge

                        my power ends.  Stops, drops

            to the foaming depths

                        of such uncertainty


                        final, that last lifting of the rope

                              wet with the tears of the sea

                                    the strong coiling spring of twine

                                    that bound a past so happy and secure

                        is cast upon a scoop of prouder ship

                                    rocking, but for now, in placid waters


                        A rough handshake

            cold now in my empty palms

                        your golden shoulder turning

            the brave shouts, danger daring

                        then you and the rest of them off to Crete

                               a sacrificial tithe

                                    to the man-killer Minotaur                                


            May the shield I offered be sufficient

                        may the sword you earned defend!

            I have done all, without the gods, I could

                                    but not enough.


            You are forth where I will never walk

                        your feet will break those grasses

                                    not yet grown until my death

            the wine-dark sea will hold you like an angry mother

            and I will climb again, weary

                        with the old bones of insufficient time

                                    or wisdom

            to sit upon the cliffs

            of all the mornings not yet born

                        to wait and pray


                        without the pride of kings

                                                            to  watch

                                    until the sea returns you

                        until with triumph you may change

            those sails of my dread, black,

                        of my helplessness

                                    to white, my son,

                        O, my son, my son

                                                to white!