Poetry Porch: Poetry


The Water in My Father’s Lungs
by Sharon Portnoff

On your deathbed in barely a whisper with your pneumonia
You recited the Spartan law (which you had never recited before)
“I will return with my shield or upon it”

When I was young we spent hours reciting poems to each other
And then we began to compete (poem for poem) until
One was erased in rapture to silence

And the other, claiming victory, overflowed with words
Of one and then another poem (at the last usually me)
Shouting out a flow of youth

Poems, you taught, land us safely on our final shores
Which embrace or agitate us (we shared the verse
Of “When we two parted”)

I gave you my word, though you had gone to war without
Me and without a shield and that meant years
We could not speak (your war was not worth

Dying for) though you meant to feed and clothe me
Most of those years your silence was a weapon
Now it is a truce

Copyright © 2019 by Sharon Portnoff.