The Fathers – Bob Selcrosse

There is a culture where, when the men know it’s time to die, climb trees.
They hope, upon death, to drop from the tree and explode on the ground.
The higher they fall the further spreads their progeny.

The job in boyhood is to identify your father.
Sons of honorable fathers must identify their fathers by their

There are the unfortunate few, however. Their father survives.
The father lands a cripple, a man broken on the ground.
And the son must drag his father. Home again, eventually they
die shamefully as failures.

The hardiest of fathers do not take failure for an answer. They,
broken legged, even broken armed, crawl back and climb and
jump. They will crawl and climb and jump, as many times as it
will take. These fathers are truly admired.

It is not for the son to drag his father. Save him the shame.
Beat your father. Scream at your father.
Do what it takes to get him back up that tree.

Dishonest children plead with their fathers at the bottoms of

Deformed children, beg their fathers to climb.
Beggars, claim shamefully their fathers are somewhere still alive.

Suicide is not permitted. This is the death of a son before a
father. This is the eradication of the family line.
No son may kill himself while his father is breathing.
Fathers will chase their sons through the woods with spears.
A father may wound the son and incapacitate him. Then, as if it were a race, he may outpace his son, scale the tree, and jump.

Distrustful children camp with a view of the tree in which their father is hiding.
Some fathers bring supplies.
Sons keep an eye through binoculars and hurl feminizing curses at their fathers.
These wily fathers are caught plucking nuts, eating birds, and sticking their tongues out in the rain.

The sons of heroes walk their fathers.
They discourse upon mothers on their way to a tree.

There is a son who made a cloak to give his father on this day.
He wove it every night. A proper shroud of every color.
But then asked his father, Don’t go.
No! Of course he must. It was his time.
He made his father eat a special dinner.
And let his father drink his favorite wine.
The father wore the cloak and climbed the tree.
His son held his foot and helped him reach a higher branch.

Upon three days, his father withered.
The highest tree in all the woods.
Upon the ground, he was unrecognizable.
Blessed by the gods.
The son built a grave above his father.
Around the grave he built a hut.
Upon the hut he thatched a roof.
Below the roof he heard the fathers.

They broke around him day and night.
They broke onto his roof or fell around it.
They broke from trees out in the distance.
They broke through many branches.

They climb the trees and die in leaves!
No son should build a hut.
Except for this brave father.
For he had jumped higher than anyone.

Bob Selcrosse grew up with his mother, selling books, in the Pacific Northwest. He is now working on a book about a book. It is based in the Pacific Northwest. The book is The Cabinet of Children.

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