Poets’ Corner: Rosemerry, 2 for Father’s Day

Poets’ Corner: Rosemerry, 2 for Father’s Day

During the 1920s and 1930s, a movement arose to scrap Mother’s Day and Father’s Day altogether in favor of a single holiday: Parents’ Day. Every year on Mother’s Day, pro-Parents’ Day groups rallied in New York City’s Central Park – a public reminder, said Parents’ Day activist and radio performer Robert Spere, “that both parents should be loved and respected together.” 

Paradoxically, however, the Depression derailed that effort to combine and de-commercialize the holidays. Struggling retailers and advertisers redoubled their efforts to make Father’s Day a “second Christmas” for men, promoting goods such as neckties, hats, socks, pipes and tobacco, golf clubs and other sporting goods, and greeting cards.

When World War II began, advertisers began to argue that celebrating Father’s Day was a way to honor American troops and support the war effort. By the end of the war, Father’s Day may not have been a federal holiday, but it was a national institution.

In 1972, in the middle of a hard-fought presidential re-election campaign, Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday at last.

The third Sunday of June is now all about celebrating the many ways fathers and father figures make a positive difference in the lives of their children – although some fathers are saints; some Santini.  Some can be both depending on the day,  faking Santini to make a point. (See below.)

Or, as in Word Woman Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer‘s singular case, he is mainly the man with a plan.

Honor thy father?

Rosemerry’s gift-wrapped words certainly do.

(And flash: Telluride’s Word Woman just announced a new book. Hush” is the winner of the Halcyon Prize for poems on human ecology. More on the local celebration of the release planned for July.)

By Example

He taught me you can never have too much love
or too much ice cream in the freezer. That it matters
how you shake someone’s hand. He taught me

to pile wet seaweed on a bare patch of dirt
so the earthworms will come to the surface.
He taught me how to cast, to set the hook, to filet.

He taught me to cheer for myself. Once,
he taught me to say no, and to mean it,
and we shouted it over and over into the phone,

our voices a joyful chorus of refusal. He taught me
that despite unceasing pain, you can still
be grateful to be alive. That it is possible

to love someone very different from you.
That you can go to different schools together.
He taught me to take life seriously, and then

to speak in made up languages and giggle till you cry.
He taught me you can’t save everyone, but
you can save a few. And it’s important that you do.


I Should Have Raised Dogs

I should have raised dogs.
That’s what my father always said
when I did something stupid.
Like when my friend and I were twelve
and we snuck into Raiders of the Lost Ark
with two seventeen-year old boys.
And there was dad, waiting
outside the theater looking like
exactly what he was — a rabid dad
hellbent on scaring the shit out of any boy
who might have unvirtuous thoughts
about his girl. He never said
what kind of dogs—poodles or labs
or mutts. I can just see him
walking the corridor of his kennel,
all the dogs barking. But dogs weren’t
his calling—the crates, the training,
special diets, vets. No,
he was the master of loving me
through my crazy mistakes
and my hormonal angst and my sudden refusal
to eat meat. I still smile thinking of
the way he would sit on the couch
and hold his arm open for me
to come sit beside him then snuggle.
The way he bought me a book
to decode my dreams. The way he took me
to piano lessons every Saturday
morning, then took me out for brunch
so we could talk. The way he still listens
when I’ve done something stupid
and then tells me he loves me.
Never once, despite all his lamentations,
did I think he would exchange me
for a chihuahua or beagle. No, there
was something almost sweet in his wish,
a hint of surrender in it, the sound
of his heart opening just a little bit wider
to let in the world, unleashed as it is.

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