Shadow Man

by Margaret Chula
Cover Photo by D. Gupta
42 pages, 8.5 x 5.5, perfect bound —$12.00
Published by The Poetry Box, Portland, Oregon

In Shadow Man, Margaret Chula brings her father out of the shadows where he had been since 1957, the day her mother packed their five children—all under the age of ten—into the car and drove away. Over the years, Margaret comes to accept the differences between a mother who wants China cups with saucers and a father who’s content with a Budweiser. Through writing about these awkward, often heartbreaking, interactions with her estranged father, she discovers that there’s more than one truth and that each of us must find our own.


after a photograph by Tracy Paul Pitts

On the day of my First Communion, I’m standing
on the sidewalk in front of St. Patrick’s Church

in a white lace dress and veil waiting for Daddy
to come and take me inside.

The other fathers are dressed in suits and ties,
their shoes so shiny I can lean over and see my reflection.

My father wears work boots with soles so thick
they can walk over nails, screws, and latches—

things that hold his life together. Like his tin
lunch pail that keeps his bologna and mayonnaise

sandwich fresh until the noon bell sounds
and he and his pals sit on picnic benches

to eat their lunches and smoke Camels
before putting on their crusty work gloves.

My gloves are in my pocket to keep them clean
for my First Communion—white

as my new Mary Jane’s, shoes with buckles,
not shoelaces that can come untied.

The other fathers are holding
their daughters’ hands and laughing.

It’s starting to get cold. I curl up my fingers
and look down at the ants on the sidewalk.
Shadow Man is a deeply touching portrayal of love, loss, and forgiveness.
— Penelope Scambly Schott, Oregon Book Award for Poetry
Through Chula’s insights, we as readers can understand our own fraught relationships with parents. As adults facing honest memory, we can arrive at the grace of reconciliation that she shows is possible and essential for our own serenity.”
— Bill Siverly, author of Nightfall
I rarely read poetry books from cover to cover, but I just finished reading Shadow Man in one sitting. It’s an amazing collection: vivid, heartbreaking, engaging, brave.
— Carolyn Martin, author of A Penchant For Masquerades