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Ken Zahorski
Ken Zahorski (English, Emeritus)
Words from life

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Hear Ken Zahorski read his poetry. >>MORE
Love, generations of family, forgiveness and the redemptive quality of time are themes to which Ken Zahorski (English, Emeritus) finds himself returning more and more in his poetry.

Zahorski, who started writing poetry upon retirement, takes the Ecclesiastical view that there are seasons in life – and the season for introspection, retrospection and integration fits in perfectly with writing poetry. He says, “Sometimes you need to step back a bit and let the well fill.”

Many of his poems have to do with ageing and, indeed, new seasons in life. He finds himself examining relationships more carefully than ever before, and has been concerned particularly to capture his changing attitudes toward his parents.


Her face glowing softly
as nimbus in the warm, yellow light
of the old farmhouse kitchen
she has called home
for most of her ninety plus years,
my mother, silenced and bound
by four strokes,
sits a prisoner in her wheelchair
at the worn wooden table
upon which she placed so many meals
for her husband and five children.
Now, she depends upon others
to feed her, and to be washed before bed.

I, her eldest son, take a soft pink washcloth,
moisten it with lukewarm water
and begin gently laving her face.
Pushing back her sparse gray curls,
I move the cloth across her forehead,
then down each cheek
up and around each eye,
and then lightly, ever so lightly,
over the delicate, transparent skin
mantling her arching nose blade,
all followed by the smoothing on
of her favorite floral-scented face cream.

Although she cannot speak,
her look, shy and wondering, tells me
she is as intrigued as I by the novelty
of my ministrations,
by my tender anointing,
and both mother and son recognize
the silent bond of loving grace
that words,
no matter how deep and wise,
can never describe.

Generous as a January thaw he was,
in most ways, yet with the praise

a child needs as much as a kite its zephyr,
my father was Midas-like, hoarding tight

compliment’s golden treasure.
Like a young Hercules I labored hard

at all my tasks just to hear one gleaming
word of approval, but the best I could

unearth were secondhand compliments
from others to whom he boasted

about his son’s good works. Once, though,
when I had stacked several cords of wood

exactly to his liking, and without his asking,
he put his hand on my shoulder, smiled,

and murmured a quick, shy thanks,
my kite filling, lifting, soaring skyward.

Spring 2010 magazine

Web extraLook here for web-only content that expands on topics presented in the current St. Norbert College Magazine (PDF).

Text Extra Too 'Old School’ for our own good?
President Tom Kunkel challenges colleges and universities to embrace new ways of delivering higher education.

Text Extra A new face in the cafe
Steve Pyne (Dining Services), who has Down syndrome, was profiled in this recent article in the student newspaper, the St. Norbert Times.

Audio La Perichole
St. Norbert College Magazine dropped in on a rehearsal for this three-act operetta production, to be staged on campus.

Video More than a photo
A gallery of images from a trip that connected a child in Kenya with his sponsors in the United States.

Text Extra A father’s love
Jeff Kratz ’92 offers a unique perspective on a father’s love.

Audio Words from life
The poetry of Ken Zahorski (English, Emeritus) deals with fathers and sons, phases of life and familiar figures remembered across the years.

Video World view
Gratzia Villarroel (Political Science) speaks with Dean Michael Marsden on international issues and educational opportunities.

Audio Man of property
Joe Jones ’12 sits down with Mike Dauplaise ’84 to discuss an education in entrepreneurism and the launch of Jones’ third business. He is 21 years old.

Text Extra Dick Bennett on Gary Grzesk
The basketball legend remembers his years presiding over the storied defensive career of Grzesk, current coach to the Green Knight men.

Story ideas? Your ideas for future magazine stories are most welcome. Write to the editor with any suggestions or comments.

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