To A Father Dying Young

By James Hall

Inspired by A.E. Houseman


I dreamt of my father last night.

We stand waiting for a table,

in a bustling Italian restaurant.

Aromas of oregano, sage, Chianti

mix with contagious laughter.


The water captain directs servers-

keeps bread baskets filled and tops off wine.

I try to get the maître d’s ear,

find out how long until our large party

can be seated. I look across


the room, where Dad is talking

with someone I don’t know.

The room is loud: I cannot hear.

Stopping his conversation, he smiles,

sage green eyes penetrate mine,

connect in familiar quiet ease.


A checkered table for two opens.

I think I should grab Dad and take it.

The two of us could sit and reminisce,

but we are part of a group too large to seat.

There will be time to catch up later.


The dream ends before we get a table.

I wake, pillow damp, spent, longing.

So many questions never answered.

Washing sleep from my eyes,

in the mirror, Dad’s face looks back at me.