Cassandra Cleghorn: I Googled My Father’s Name

Cassandra Cleghorn: I Googled My Father’s Name
Nathan Anderson

Nathan Anderson

Golden Hour


...they are not made of gold themselves

but have lain beside something that is made of gold.

Freud, “Screen Memories” (1899)


Just now I Googled my father’s name since

it’s Father’s Day and social media will not

relent until I find him. Buried among

the many men who couldn’t be my father

are two mentions of the man who is

In 2014, he performed at a cafe

from 12 to 1, next year, same city

again for one hour, at a clinic. I drop

my hands to my lap, each palm

rubs the denim pale as sand

so deaf to myself that all I can say is

Is it such a crime to be a big –

I almost wrote nothing, but what if

he reads this, which he won’t – so, yes

then, nothing, and no. No traction

so I toggle tab #2, 24/7 live-cam

above Hog Island where an osprey

and her two chicks stare back at me

from their messy perch on my laptop

long stretches of no apparent action  

one fish flown in now and then

by the male who stays just long enough

to join in the eating and the eyeing of sky

I will not think of vigilance or love

pulled as I am into the screen where

the chicks hinge open wide and pink

I grow soft inside, almost coming

to the hunger of it all ‘til Siblicide Alert

warns the website. The strong one turns

on the runt, landing blow upon blow

on the featherless head as if it hates

what it must eat, and the mirror neurons

flare again so I shrink to the form I was

when I must have wanted more

or less than I got. Family, a problem

of proportion, the one, the other, if both

then not in the way we seemed to need

That summer visitation, the three of us

driving through desert, him saying

“If we hurry I can make the sunset”

his film of just the right speed, as if

the power to bring that day to its close

was his and yet also certainly iffy

How often I replay the rushed set-up

of tent and tripod, aluminum poles

fitted together, two girls, one father

burnished frame without predicate

Did he get the shot he so badly wanted

did we know to care apart from his caring

or sleep. A memory does not, as people

are accustomed to say, emerge;

it is formed at the moment of its arousal

I can’t tell what screens what

which the sham and which the gold

how the generic sunset serves me

when the optimal time for repair

is long past. As then in New Mexico

so in Maine now. At nest edge

the runt, still as lichen wisp, gives up

With fingertip I cursor its spine

as Mom grabs in her guiltless beak a stick

and drags it across the nest to where

in osprey-think must be its better place.

I asked him once if he put up a fight

when she took us from him for good

The stick is twice the osprey’s length

she tugs and lurches, a talon catches

on the nest, she shakes it loose

Go, please, stay, what does it matter

what he said. As long as I watch

the osprey’s slow progress, her nudge

of the small grey corpse now no more

than a snag in the order of things

for so long I feel the surge, soundless

in her own soft cunt

Cassandra Cleghorn is the author of Four Weathercocks (Marick Press, 2016). She was educated at University of California, Santa Cruz and at Yale University. Her work has appeared in journals including Paris Review, New Orleans Review, Poetry International, The Common, Narrative and Tin House. She lives in Vermont, teaches at Williams College, and serves as poetry editor of Tupelo Press. Learn more at