Far Beyond the Visible

Three poets from Florida, Tennessee, and Virginia offer visions of their fathers.


By Terry Huff

My dad somehow knew
to position himself between me

and a vast ocean I’d never seen,
then kneel in the sand at eye level

where I could see his Brylcreemed
black hair close up, and he could see

directly into my apprehension
through the lenses of my new glasses, 

my first pair at age four, giving me
a clear view of everything. 

Squinting under a noon sun, I lowered
my gaze to our shadows below, 

the palm of his hand stroking my head,
calming the sea for me.


By Sharon Ackerman

Your memory is a tiny headlight
way down the road, still
I recall our ride on a painted monster,
its giant eye shooting flame.
I’m afraid I’ll go flying off
from you, and you are equally sure
I will not, one of your hands
hitched to my sleeve
as wind and gravity do their best
to pull me into dark fissures
of night. This is how our limbs move
together and apart, the pulley’s
tension that holds us sway
in swirls of pink cotton and stars.
And this is what every father imagines:
his arm’s infinite reach, long after
the tent folds, the trampled grass calls
back its crickets and there is only
their sound and the bare sky.


By James Lilliefors

My father’s eyes were a strange blend of blue—
pale, cool, gently unflinching.
The blue of probability. His field. 

The view from my father’s study
was close, a second-story perspective:
maple leaves, phone wires, slanted roofs.
But my father saw far through that window–
far beyond what was visible,
past what could be imagined, even,
to what was possible.

I never quite saw it myself.
But there were times, as a boy,
when I was startled by the reflection
in my father’s eyes: bright morning,
light mountain snow tumbling down,
covering the world, waiting for footprints.

My eyes are still dazzled occasionally,
all these years later, by the ingenuity
of my father’s view.
I look out and see snow
quietly collecting, unnoticed,
on the suburban streets where I live,
the sidewalks, the bare maple branches,
and I pull on my boots
and go outside
to walk in it, before it melts.
To leave footprints.


About the author

Terry M. Huff, author of Living Well with ADHD (Specialty Press, 2016), is a social worker and writer in the Nashville, Tennessee, area. He received his master's in psychology from Middle Tennessee State University, MSSW in social work from the University of Tennessee, and has completed the MTSU Write program. Huff has studied poetry with mentors Denton Loving and Sally Rosen Kindred and attended workshops with poets Jeff Hardin and Mike James.

Sharon Ackerman lives in central Virginia. Her poems have appeared in Southern Humanities Review, Still: The Journal, and Valparaiso Poetry Review, among others. She has one collection, Revised Light (Main Street Rag, 2021), and is poetry editor for Streetlight Magazine.

James Lilliefors is a poet, journalist, and novelist who grew up in the Washington, D.C., area and now lives in Florida. His writing can be found in Ploughshares, The Washington Post, The Hooghly Review, Door Is A Jar, The Miami Herald, Anti-Heroin Chic, and many other places.

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