Sunday, June 19, 2005

It's Fathers' Day

It's Fathers' Day, of course--a very important holiday at my house, although not nearly as important as its, ahem, maternal counterpart.

In honor of which, these poems. I apologize in advance if they're not difficult enough to... well, 'nuff said on that front. If they're in the wrong "mode," not the next big thing or the last one, then so much the worse for literary fashion, say I. They both teach awfully well, by the way; if you'd like, I can post some thoughts on how I present them, etc. For now, though, just enjoy.

Father’s Song, by Gregory Orr

Yesterday, against admonishment,
my daughter balanced on the couch back,
fell and cut her mouth.

Because I saw it happen I knew
she was not hurt, and yet
a child’s blood’s so red
it stops a father’s heart.

My daughter cried her tears;
I held some ice
against her lip.
That was the end of it.

Round and round; bow and kiss.
I try to teach her caution;
she tries to teach me risk.


Words for Worry, by Li Young-Lee

Another word for father is worry.

Worry boils the water
for tea in the middle of the night.

Worry trimmed the child’s nails before
singing him to sleep.

Another word for son is delight,
another word, hidden.

And another is One-Who-Goes-Away.
Yet another, One-Who-Returns.

So many words for son:
He-Dreams-for-All-Our-Sakes.
His-Play-Vouchsafes-Our-Winter-Share.
His-Dispersal-Wins-the-Birds.

But only one word for father.
And sometimes a man is both.
Which is to say sometimes a man
manifests mysteries beyond
his own understanding.

For instance, being the one and the many,
and the loneliness of either. Or

the living light we see by, we never see. Or

the sole word weighs
heavy as a various name.

And sleepless worry folds the laundry for tomorrow.
Tired worry wakes the child for school.

Orphan worry writes the note he hides
in the child’s lunch bag.
It begins, Dear Firefly....

1 comment:

Nan Cohen said...

Hi, Eric. I hope you had a happy Father's Day.

I'd like to know how you teach "Words for Worry." I think there's a potential creative-writing assignment (an "another word for" poem) in responding to Li-Young Lee's lovely poem.

And here's another father's poem for you; it's by Thomas Lux. I hope the lineation comes out OK.

A Little Tooth
by Thomas Lux

Your baby grows a tooth, then two,
and four, and five, then she wants some meat
directly from the bone. It's all

over: she'll learn some words, she'll fall
in love with cretins, dolts, a sweet
talker on his way to jail. And you,

your wife, get old, flyblown, and rue
nothing. You did, you loved, your feet
are sore. It's dusk. Your daughter's tall.