Submit Your Poems
Get Your Premium Membership

See and share Beautiful Nature Photos and amazing photos of interesting places

Quote of the Day

Quote Left"The harder you work, the luckier you get."Quote Right

by Gary Player

  |  Comment

Lay Back the Darkness: A Poem by Edward Hirsch

Tim Ryerson Avatar Tim Ryerson - Premium MemberPremium Member Send Soup Mail Go to Poets Blog Block poet from commenting on your poetry

Below is the poem entitled Lay Back the Darkness: A Poem by Edward Hirsch which was written by poet Tim Ryerson. Please feel free to comment on this poem. However, please remember, PoetrySoup is a place of encouragement and growth.

Read Poems by Tim Ryerson

Best Tim Ryerson Poems

+ Fav Poet

Lay Back the Darkness: A Poem by Edward Hirsch

My father in the night shuffling from room to room
on an obscure mission through the hallway.

Help me, spirits, to penetrate his dream
and ease his restless passage.

Lay back the darkness for a salesman
who could charm everything but the shadows,

an immigrant who stands on the threshold
of a vast night

without his walker or his cane
and cannot remember what he meant to say,

though his right arm is raised, as if in prophecy,
while his left shakes uselessly in warning.

My father in the night shuffling from room to room
is no longer a father or a husband or a son,

but a boy standing on the edge of a forest
listening to the distant cry of wolves,

to wild dogs,
to primitive wingbeats shuddering in the treetops

***This is probably my all-time favorite poem by a contemporary poet because of the absolutely stunning and chilling content and also because I watched my father and his father suffer the same disease...My grandfather went very quickly but my father suffered for 2 years...His disease was not actually Alzheimer's but rather he suffered a series of mini-strokes which caused a myriad of related problems, including Alzheimer's symptoms. The first sign of trouble was when he put his pants on backwards one morning which scared my mom to death...She suffered greatly too taking care of him for those 2 years...Eventually he died of a massive stroke which was a horrible sight to behold...
My wife died peacefully in her sleep from degenerative heart disease. I remember her best friend saying, 'Vicki always knew how to do everything right. She even knew how to die right'...We should all be so lucky

Post Comments

Please Login to post a comment
  1. Date: 8/6/2013 5:02:00 PM
    Man, I just re-read this poem again, and the ending gives me goosebumps of awe and mystery. "My father in the night shuffling from room to room is no longer a father or a husband or a son, / but a boy standing on the edge of a forest listening to the distant cry of wolves, / to wild dogs, to primitive wingbeats shuddering in the treetops" = Wow! How much better can poetry get than that!? Awwww, sad insight in your footnotes, Tim. But thankfully there is beauty, appreciation and grace as well.

  1. Date: 8/6/2013 4:51:00 PM
    Tim, thanks for the interaction. Hey, after you mentioned to check this out, and I punched the title into search, a blog of yours also came up. I remember the blog now, and this poem! I actually left a comment on your blog, stating how impressed I was by this poem. Do you know wot poems like this do for/to me? Poems like this humble me. Yes, they humble me greatly and push me to strive for new heights in my own amateur writing. And I absolutely love that.

  1. Date: 7/29/2013 2:22:00 AM
    I can see or read why you love this poem,, it's awesome ;} I will have to read his poems,,,,, I wrote one a while back called Remember US" ;}

  1. Date: 7/19/2013 1:32:00 AM
    I think you may have shown this one to me a long time ago because I remember it and how brilliant it is, tim.

  1. Date: 7/16/2013 11:59:00 PM
    When I read this poem that you found & shared with us here, Tim, I read it & the way it made me feel was like when I once was left standing in the rain, it was refreshing & soothing, but it drenched me to my soul. ... This poem & your meditations at the end of it - had that effect on me. ... like standing in the pouring rain, helpless against the power, but touched by its drenching to the core ... Moonie

  1. Date: 7/11/2013 7:41:00 PM
    I was really stunned with no words when i first stopped by this poem Tim,,,, i guess it was after reading about your wife passing peacefully in her sleep... as they said my mom did... the note had me in tears.... xox... good night my friend... xox..>PD

  1. Date: 7/9/2013 10:49:00 AM
    This poem touches deep within me, Tim......though I know not written by you, but the fact that you have shared it as your own experience, melts my heart. I saw my dad suffer from cancer.....and it wasn't so much the disease that called like wild dogs......but at the end the drugs, morphine, and such, that turned the end into a nightmarish journey of that boy standing on the edge of the forest, hearing wild dogs and shuttering of wings. It does weigh heavily on my heart.

  1. Date: 7/7/2013 7:40:00 AM
    Thank you for sharing this moving poem with us, Tim. Someone once told me that some deaths are light as a feather and others weigh on you like a mountain.... Love, Su

  1. Date: 7/6/2013 9:58:00 PM
    WOW... Tim this is such a gripping realistic view of these tragic conditions. The elderly suffer and so many times they are cast out by families who cannot cope with these burdens. I wish everyone could be as caring and compassionate as your excellent write portrays. Stunning write and thank you for the commentary at the end...More inspiring that words can express :)

  1. Date: 7/6/2013 8:25:00 PM
    :-) PD