“A Solitary Figure on the Shore “

a poem by Elizabeth Padillo Olesen, Denmark


I was a small child
And he was already an old man, taller, much higher
bigger and could speak much louder, faster,
than all the tallest, than all the highest,
than all the fastest, than all the biggest,
than all the loudest in my home island.
He was the loneliest but he had me and his stories.

He was my father whom I could not call by
his sweet name. When asked, “Who is your father?
I could only give his name as “Papa”.
In front of others, I could not address him
by his sweet name, Celestino
It was disrespectful to call him by his sweet name
I knew he wanted me only to call him
“Papa” everyday in my life as a child.

He was my Papa and I was his stage -
a great audience to his own stories;
stories, not read from books but from his own mind;
stories about strange creatures
in the deepest bottom of the blue sea
of mermaids and the fishes, sea horses,
jelly fishes and octopuses, corals and seaweeds
And to each of them he gave a sweet name.

Papa was a solitary figure on the shore
because he was the only who could tell stories
like games and mysteries to my ears;
his were stories of turtles and dolphins
coming to rescue the drowning passengers
in stormy nights and super typhoons;
his were stories of tragedies and violence
but also of heroic deeds of other creatures
only wanting to help save.

Papa was a solitary figure on the shore
in my home island
He was the only Papa in my lonely island
who could tell stories that
touched my heart and mind as a child.
______________________________
January 7, 2017
In response to the 74th title challenge of Denis Barter






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