Poets' Corner: David Feela For Father's Day!

Father’s Day is a celebration honoring, well, fathers. The holiday also celebrates fatherhood in general, paternal bonds, and the influence of dads in society. For some, however, Father’s Day is shorthand for pulling out a wallet. Again. Gifts of watches and Fitbits, beard trimmers, bespoke home distilleries and grills, tickets to sports events, all common ways to honor dadsFor the record, in my family, we never celebrated Hallmark holidays like this one. Love and respect, my dad taught his girls, should not, could not, be turned on and off like a light switch based a date on a calendar. 

That said, David Feela‘s tribute to his father, the man’s surrogate today simple cotton pajamas, reminds us how we love them, regardless of  their quirks. Or in this case, because of them. So before you buy one more tie or razor –  or another pair of pjs – no dad really needs, perhaps consider the gift of David’s words.

35 Pairs of Pajamas

My father might have been known as
the Commandant of Cotton
or the Curator of Sleep
had anyone inventoried his bedroom.

After he died we found layered
in the bottom dresser drawer
like strata, pajamas folded away
for nearly a half century.

Most were threadbare, thin enough
to be mistaken for gauze or lingerie.
At bedtime he opened his drawer,
and lifted the top pair from its tiny coffin

where he’d kept them confined.
By morning he’d slip out of his soft skin,
strap on the same rigid work shirt and pants
he’d left hanging in the corner every night.

But here he held in reserve 35 pairs
of tenderness he’d never shown
to anyone else, 35 pairs he saved
for that glance in the mirror

or maybe for that moment in bed
when he pulled the sheets to his chin
and felt the reassurance of habit
that never wears out.

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