The King and I, 1961
At Christmas, we caroled with
neighbors, assorted instruments
and all ages welcome. Each year
two were chosen to sing the parts
King Wenceslas and his page.
One year my Dad and I sang;
how I still hear his bass voice booming
the words: Mark my footsteps,
my good page: tread thou in them boldly.
Lunch Time, 1963
Dad could look sad
as a basset hound pup
wandering the kitchen
at noon, seeking
what food there might be
on a plate, for him, at table;
I don’t suppose there’s anything for me?
his way of soliciting
High School Homework, 1965
I recall angry evenings
despairing at homework
that made no sense to me;
’til Dad’s reasoned,
Tell me what you don’t
clarified the problem
in my reframed question.
Dinner at the Chem Lab, 12 Oxford Street, Cambridge
Dark winter evenings at Dad’s office/lab–
with its small bathroom-cum-pantry,
the old green sofa and blanket thick
with smells from the adjoining lab–
I would curl up, read, or do homework
until we dined on Dinty Moore beef stew
in the can over a Bunsen burner; then
ice cream sandwiches from basement machines,
a long walk through dark winding halls.
Slow Waltz at the Boston Skating Club
Dad was creative in all the ways
he combined one thing with another;
like deciding in his 60s he wanted
to skate, a break in the day and a chance
for some fun; he asked me to
be his partner. Lunchtimes we met,
laced up for lessons, then practiced our steps,
swooping around the ice like the pair
we were, feeling like Ginger and Fred.
Crisis Moment, 1968
I called Dad during the day
from Cornell–what crisis?–
though meeting with colleagues,
he quietly asked them to excuse
him a moment, never
considered putting me
Twenty-First Birthday, 1969
Junior year, my dad appeared
in a snowstorm one day,
Cornell en route to nowhere else;
yet there he was, driving up
as if coming home, taking me to dinner,
and saying goodnight.
Waving goodbye, I understood
he had opened more than
one door in that visit.
2 replies on “Simple Gifts”
Such beautiful, touching poems, snapshots from the heart. A true tribute to what was obviously a very close and warm relationship. Thank you for sharing these.
Thank you, Sara. I love ‘snapshots from the heart.’ So true. It pleases me to hear that they touched you.