Thursday, November 29, 2012

Poem 27 - Wrist-wrestling father

I’ve been digging up some fabulous poems lately. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

We host Thanksgiving every year, and this was our second in our new house. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s about the food, not the house. And if there’s one room to clean, it’s my study. Sure, we clean the bathroom, wipe down the kitchen, mop the floors, vacuum, but the room that gets the best treatment is my study. Why? Because that’s where my mother wants to go after the dishes are done and before the desserts come out.

I grew up on a big old farmhouse. There were plenty of rooms—even a room or two we never used—but Mom (like most moms) never felt that she had her own space. When my parents left the farm for their new house in town, she had the luxuries we’d only dreamed of on the farm—a laundry room! a fireplace! a garage! a spare room! But alas, my brother moved back in and between him and his boys who visited every other weekend, the “spare” space was eaten up again.

When I ran upon this poem again last night, it made me think of my mother asking if we could go to “your room.” I still can’t believe I have something my mother doesn’t and that she’s envious of it. It’s like the son in this poem. No matter how grown and accomplished a child is, the moment that means the most to them is the moment they “win” over their parents.  

Wrist-wrestling father
Orval Lund

for my father

On the maple wood we placed our elbows
and gripped hands, the object to bend
the other’s arm to the kitchen table.
We flexed our arms and waited for the sign.

I once shot a wild goose.
I once stood not twenty feet from a buck deer unnoticed.
I’ve seen a woods full of pink lady slippers.
I once caught a 19-inch trout on a tiny fly.
I’ve seen the Pacific, I’ve seen the Atlantic,
I’ve watched whales in each.

I once heard Lenny Bruce tell jokes.
I’ve seen Sandy Koufax pitch a baseball.
I’ve heard Paul Desmond play the saxophone.
I’ve been to London to see the Queen.
I’ve had dinner with a Nobel Prize poet.

I wrote a poem once with every word but one just right.
I’ve fathered two fine sons
and loved the same woman for twenty-five years.

But I’ve never been more amazed
than when I snapped my father’s arm down to the table.

from Casting Lines

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