Dan Chiasson

Father and Son
by Dan Chiasson

Only much later did they see, the two of them,
that, never knowing one another, there was nothing

not to know; that not being to begin with meant
those later, more drastic negations negated nothing;

this was to be the poignant part of it. The nothing
nevertheless would someday end; and the wish–

he wished it in a priory, he wished it in a mall–
was that the ending to this nothing might be,

if not an event, at least not a non-event.
Which, in the end, when it happened, it wasn’t.

November 15, 2010, The New Yorker

Editorial: This…blows…my…mind…for reasons quite meaningful to me.



Filed under Editorial, Poems

3 responses to “Dan Chiasson

  1. APG

    I’ve read this a bunch of times and still can’t get it. All the double and triple negatives make my head spin.

    • Here’s what I see. A father never developed a relationship with his son. All his life the son yearns for that relationship–in the mall and in the priory. It runs deep and ever constant this desire. As the poem begins there is the realization that at some point both father and son realize it is just too late to build what never was. Perhaps the more drastic negations were arguments about the would’a, could’a, should’as of the son’s expectations of his father. The “negated nothing” could be the father trying to explain the situation from his point of view. The poignant part is that the son thought that this void would end with the death of his father. And yet he hoped that the death of his father would bring about some kind of emotion from within himself. He didn’t want to feel nothing. And of course, when the father died it had a profound effect on the son.

      Great poem.

  2. Pingback: Kay Ryan | chg7

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