Radio Tower

In early 2001, I moved into a tiny basement apartment in Portland, Oregon. I was separated, nearing divorce, with shared custody of my three-year-old son, Holden. I told him he’d spend half his nights with his Mom, half his nights with me in what we came to call The Writing Room.

I was still trying to sort through the wreckage of my marriage, unable to grasp what it meant to be divorced (again).

So I wrote myself a prose poem:


The radio tower stands like a rocket from the Ike era on the next ridge

Three proud stanchions, red and white, intersecting in the sky

A nose cone under the stars, blinking red and black and red

Like a lonely traffic light, from a world turned aquamarine.


My tower stands on the next ridge, has always stood on the next ridge

Even when the ground shifted beneath my little family

Sending me to another home, another nearby ridge, but still in view

Of the sweet blinking somnambulant tower that remembers


Remembers the nights when you were just small, hot nights

When I pulled you out of the bath and hauled you up in a towel

Flip flops snapping in the street beneath us to view this shared giant.

Oh, it’s a good radio tower, little man, I would say, and you would laugh.


When you got bigger I put you on my shoulders, your pajamas

Fresh from the drier, warm on my neck; moving for the street I’d tease

“What do you see?” and you would call back, “Radio Tower!”

Squealing with delight, unaware I wasn't walking back into the house.


I know the tower now, know it breathes when no one is looking

Good radio tower, little man, I whisper to myself those nights we’re apart

Smelling the Dreft in your pajamas, feeling your fingers twist my hair

The tower, never losing sight of me, unmoved by the shifting ground.


The photo of the radio tower, which sits atop Council Crest, was shot by Joseph Bergantine in 2010. Click here to view the full photo.