Monday, June 16, 2008

Father's Day Take 2

I didn't get a chance to perform my Father's Day ritual visit with my father (yet) this year. In the years since Dad died, I've made it a point to enjoy a few of the things we shared interest in. We didn't seem to agree on a great deal - at least from the time I was 11 or so - but in my adulthood, we found more and more common ground (Yes, Mark Twain, you were right. I admit it).

The last few years, this day has been a bit of an emotional jumble for me. I love the deal my kids make of it, and I want to be completely present in the moment for them (and for myself, of course). And my father-in-law always deserves celebration (even when he's not making his meatloaf). But it's hard not to lose a few moments during the day thinking about the man who was most like me.

This melancholy isn't all that unusual, even for those who didn't catch the last hour of I Never Sang For My Father Sunday afternoon on TBS. Michele Melendez wrote about it this year, and there's a terrific essay by Kelli Agodon covering nearby territory over at Literary Mama. So I give myself permission to spend an evening in the next week to have a couple good beers, read a little about the history of math, and watch Scent of a Woman.

I've spent years trying to write my way through understanding my relationship with my father, with varying degrees of success. Part of the hurdle is the nagging memory that he really didn't understand my interest in poetry. When I had a poem published in the Christian Science Monitor, his first question was "Did you have to convert?" He read my poems diligently, and he was appreciative when I showed enthusiasm, but he never really "got" it. So whenever he wanders into a poem, he seems to bring a skepticism with him that takes the poem in a predictable, unresolved, direction.

I don't permit most of my "father poems" to see daylight, but here's one that first appeared in Paterson Literary Review. I'll let it complete the thought that let me to start this entry in the first place.

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