Robert Fillman


Sometimes when I climb the stairs
at night to check on the kids
I almost expect to see

myself standing at the top,
a child once again, my hands
soft and small, wrists reaching out

from beyond unmended cloth,
one of my dad’s flannel shirts
covering me like a robe.

I want to be held, cradled
in song, carried to my room
rubbing sleep away with fists.

I don’t know why I’m surprised
when my eye only catches
a slight glare of the hall light

reflecting off a portrait
that looks nothing like me now,
full head of hair, sawdust blonde,

no wire frames or black stubble
on cheeks, just a palimpsest   
that shrinks further and further
away the closer I get.

Robert Fillman

won the poetry contest at the 2016 Pennsylvania Writers Conference. His poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Cider Press ReviewHollins CriticPoet LoreSalamanderTar River Poetry, and other journals. A Senior Teaching Fellow at Lehigh University, he lives in eastern Pennsylvania with his wife, Melissa, and their two children, Emma and Robbie.