Three reasons why being a dad is my favorite thing ever.
Assonance, it’s good for the heart as well as the ear. And it’s hard to resist sometimes, even in the title to a post. And this post is number 400. Talk about good for the heart! It seems like I’ve been at this longer, and technically I have, but those early days of writing here were extremely sporadic, with only a handful of posts that first twelve months.
It was a difficult time to say the least, five years ago and single again after a decade of coupledom. I’d had to give up the house that I’d been helping to pay for. I missed my garden, my kitchen, my home. Hard to imagine until you do it how it is to walk away from the path that you thought was the one you would follow to old age. And this was the second such departure, the first being the break up of my marriage.
Come to think of it, when I started writing here, my ex-boyfriend (we never got to “husband” stage, but that’s another story altogether) and I were still living together, but it was already failing, falling into a slow (at first) decline, like an aircraft sputtering out of fuel and nosing toward hard earth. We were both very depressed at the time, and he more so than I realized then. I needed something for my sanity, and this blog became my way of keeping myself writing. However frequently I neglected it, it would always be waiting for me when I came back to the computer.
And it was also my way of focusing on the good in my life. I had decided that it would be beneficial for me to make this blog about the things that brought me joy. Obviously fatherhood was at the top of the list, and I had little energy for others outside of a few close friends who were more family than my own brothers and sisters.
When thinking about what made me most myself, poetry came in second. I may have rarely sought to publish, but I could never not write, at least not for long, and since blogs are for writing, it seemed a good choice to channel my efforts into. Granted, I had at one time a blog on the old Journalspace (now defunct), but I wanted to take a more holistic approach this time.
View from the top
Those long walks in the woods that I would take, binoculars in hand, afternoons by the lake or on the ridge, getting in touch with my inner Mary Oliver, watching the birds, witnessing a world that went on consistently, despite the uncertainty of my own. The cycle of the seasons has always been a big draw for poets. And so I chose to focus on that triad, the original three tabs on The Dad Poet: Father, Poet, Birder.
These three seemed to make up what was most centrally me, and believe me I needed to regain my sense of person-hood and autonomy. After a while I found myself concentrating most on poetry here, and letting the rest become a fitting backdrop, the setting from which I write. I imagine the blog is due for a few changes soon, but I think I shall keep the heart of what it’s about.
I certainly need to update the bio and poetry pages with new information and publication links. And looking ahead, well who knows, with three sons I am bound to become a grandpa some day (a long way off!), and what shall I call this place then, The Granddad Poet? Who knows?
But before I close out this 400th post I wanted to leave you with something. I am frequently asked to post more poems by me, and while this one could certainly be submitted elsewhere, I can hardly think of a more fitting place for it than right here on the blog about the bird watching dad who writes poems. The early drafts were from a decade ago, but for a long time it hadn’t entirely settled. It was like the key fit, but it hadn’t yet turned just right so that the bolt fell into place.
Before I knew I was a poet
It finally feels just right now, and I think it’s finally done with me, well done with my fiddling anyhow. I’m not sure if Paul Valery was right when he said that poems were never finished, only abandoned. I wonder. Some poems I find myself wanting to tweak and polish for years, but other poems are like roads that I’ve followed as far as I can go without writing a new poem. And after all to change a word is to change the whole poem, a mentor of mine once said.
Other poems are like children that grow up into their own persons, sometimes surprising parents even while delighting us. There may be a bit of sadness in that our role of care-taker and instructor is done, yet there’s an unmistakable feeling of pride that the child has become a wholly independent being, no longer in need of our support. Perhaps it is they who abandon us, but then again, I’d like to think we are still thought of fondly by them. Maybe they’ll still visit on Sundays, and enjoy it when we read them out loud. It’s not that the relationship is severed. It’s just that they don’t really need us anymore.
This is one of those poems, never before read or published anywhere else.
I try to place the cap on my head
but discover it’s too small this time.
My fumbling hand finds the reason—
its size mischievously transformed
to fit your little dome. Thirty six years
on your seven-year crown. Mid October,
with it’s grays and browns, warms
to Indian Summer, almost green
in the sun of your wide eyes.
Not long ago your brothers stood
startled at the pronouncement of spring—
the year’s first robin, alighting confidently
on that very head. One day last autumn
you and I drove through a confetti
of falling leaves, a parade of two.
“The leaves are notes. . . written to the earth,”
you said. “But people pick them up,
and most of them, are never read.”
© Copyright 2013 by David J. Bauman