Fathers and Sons – by Joseph Kleponis

It is swallowed in the palm of my hand,
The leather cover worn and faded,
On its spine the gold leaf lettering:
Maldu Knygene, in English, Prayer Book.

I turn it in the palm of my hand.
In 1922 was it large in your hand?
Did you grip it tightly as you whispered
Ancient words, Tėve mūsų (Our Father)?

It is one of those things, like the air,
The blue sky, the bench in the sun
Overlooking the harbor where you sat
As your father had sat, too,
As he looked out over waters that stretched
To the horizon, to the homeland,
He would never see again; that connects
You to me to him, like the imprint
Of your fingers worn into the leather
Of that old prayer book you grasped as you prayed
Whatever prayers an alien’s son offered
To gain the comfort that has been this life
That you and he made for me.


Joseph Kleponis is retired from teaching, now has time for reading, writing, and travel and lives north of Boston, Massachusetts. His poetry has appeared in numerous journals including First Literary Review -East, Leaflet: the Journal of the New England Teachers of English, Penmen Review of Southern New Hampshire University, Muddy River Poetry Review, and Wilderness House Literary Review. Truth’s Truth, a book of his poems, was released in 2021 by Kelsay Books.