Throwback Thursdays! We’re bringing back some of our favorite pieces from the last 30 years of Scribendi.

Sestina For My Father
Michael Hansen – 2000

The    winters always start like this, the weeds that rot,
that you can smell, the grass something that’s frail
and dying, crisp when I wake up.
My father leads me out into the chill,
The way that he has always done.  His hands
are large and rough with mine inside, not cold,

but bare and thick. The aching winter cold
flows from them, liquid to the warmth. Rough weeds
lie in the yard. They seem so small, his hands can
wrench them out to clear the soil, something so safe
about his breath.  It paints the chill
with steam, some new reminder swimming up

like birds that flock above me, raking up
the leaves that stay like corpses in the cold,
his face and mouth a clay that shapes.  The chill bites
at my eyes, I watch him throw the weeds, the thin and fragile bones, the shells, something to leave behind.  This skin, these tiny hands,

age five that reach out at the air, my hands
that search the grass, the dirt, dark oak turned up
against my fingers, dead and rough. Something to
press, something to sink them in, the cold
remains of spring. They search the piles of weeds,
the frozen flowers, wilted in the chill.

The snow is on its way, he says, a chill
that spreads all through my paper flesh, my hand
begin to stop. He smiles. He says, The weeds
are dead, that’s how you know. My head turns up
to him, so tall, Even the sun gets cold,
even the sun.  And I can   feel something

that starts out low, that folds and builds, something so
new. The smell of change, the ugly chill
October brings. We walk away, my cold
and tiny fingers safe inside his hand again,
the way they fit.  it presses up,
it knows my skin.  He leads me past the weeds,

the sidewalk cold and slick beneath. The chill
has dropped the leaves here, something like the weeds
my father’s hands pull up, dead pile, to burn.