National Poetry Month: April 2, poem and response


Your Grandfather At Eighty

Your grandfather at eighty would have been
a kind old man. He’d have taken you by the hand
on a hot afternoon to buy ice cream.
I have so many things to show you:
Visions and dreams, the way the light
lies down in the long grass at daybreak.
There are enough blueberries in the field above
the house to make a little jam. Or we could eat them
one by one, the way mice and foxes do.

I loved you so much the moment
you were born. Did the cry you made
arrive, wholly, from the other world?
This life is more than an arriving and a leaving.
Fill it up with joy and laughter. Anyone
can drink the bitter tea steeped in grief.

—Alan Cooper

Fishing Season Begins 

My father at eighty might have fished
today. He might have taken my grandson
by the hand down to an open river. 
"Don't worry, it'll put hair on your chest,"
if you complained of the cold. Then he'd laugh,
put you in a headlock, say: "say uncle." 
(My father might have told my grandson about walking the floors  
with my son, his father, when he was teething. How his
daughter had arrived that night late, babe in arms,  
but probably not. )
Your Bumpy's love's deeper than this river, he would have said
for sure and another thing : learn how to be a father to yourself. 
Make sure you open doors for every woman you meet. 
Then he'd recite a poem. Catch a fish. Show him how to remove
the hook from its mouth like a gentle man. Release it
as my grandson squealed with joy.
Hope you go fishing lots. Take lots of bug spray, learn to
tie your own flies. Good way to practice patience. These woods
are my church and God's close as your reflection in this river.  


Allan Cooper has published 14 collections of poems, most recently The Deer Yard, a series of answering poems in the Chinese tradition with Nova Scotia poet Harry Thurston. In 2012 Allan resurrected his old poetry magazine, Germination for a special issue in honour of Robert Bly’s 86th birthday. He lives most of the year in Alma, New Brunswick, a small fishing village on the Bay of

More Daughter poems by Allan Cooper at this link.