Fathers and sons…

I’ve been reading Sebastian Matthews’ memoir, In My Father’s Footsteps.

It is a very strange book, honest beyond what usually passes for honesty.  Earnest and real, it owns its faults, its human weakness, its entitlement and indulgence and intelligence. Self-aware without ever stumbling into irony. No small feat.

It feels a little like a run-on sentence.  Each moment and memory bleeding into the next.  I guess that comes of poets writing prose.  Or of people living at high speeds.

Sebastian, though himself quite a writer, is the son of another poet–Bill Matthews.  Bill passed away in 1997, after I’d graduated from college, but while I was still living in Chattanooga.  And it was in Chattanooga that I met Bill, and then re-met Sebastian.  Small world, our poetry universe.  I have sat in the same house with each man, in different years, drinking the same vintage on the same rainy porch, in several Tennessee springs.

Bill always in a centrally locatedchair, surrounded by people, one leg crossed over the other.

Sebastian standing, leaning, listening closely to a few friends. Often on the edges.

But both, almost always, smiling.

This book gave me a sense of each man as a more complete/real/flawed human. But it also made me love each of them, and their work, a little more.

I cried.

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