Nils Peterson: Talk in the Reading Room
About Nils Peterson

 The Reading Room
 Xmas Eve at the Big House 
 Christmas Mysteries 
Summers in Long Island 
 Father Arrives in the    Triumphal Car 
 Yankee Stadium Gone 
 A Thing of Beauty 
Learning From My Father 
 Learning From My Mother 
The Bus


 Next Stop 
 Going to College
 My Lecture on Romanticism 
 A Story 
 Go Way From My Window 
• Singing in the Rain 
 On the Nature of Exposition 
 A Latin Class
 A Hero's Life
 Letter to Paul Cantrell
• Homecoming 
 The Moon and the Bulldozer


Learning From My Father

 in the foundry, watching great ladles of metal swing out of the dark furnace and trolley across the plant high above our heads, the deep orangey red of iron, the thin shiny bright yellow of brass, my father’s crew tipping the pots of fire into the molds more carefully than ever my mother poured coffee. this is the only life for a man, I think, the heating of metal and the pouring of it — or maybe

that life is like when my father would drive a fire engine home, flashing up the driveway, siren whooping, one hand on the wheel, one hand flicking the thong to the great silver bell, or maybe I learned that from my father’s hand — big with use, thumbnail irredeemably cracked, arm, shoulder, back that once knew how to make things move.

we played this game. he would place his thumb and four fingers against the large tendons of my neck and squeeze. when I said “ow,” game over. “ows” came quickly, yet older and stubborner and into myself, the pain lengthened. at maybe 13, I did not say “ow” though there was no stint of squeezing.

no cruelty here. affection. the touch of his hand good, yet, maybe the lesson not good.

when anger came, his throat narrowed until sound could not get out nor air get in.

  © 2014, Nils Peterson

NEXT >>   

Back to top