my father brought
my nose pressed into
the yellow silky blooms
cradled in the waxy green paper.
Realizing a sudden femaleness.
Holding these contradictory
frail yet strong flowers
a gift for my mother and me.
The sweet, sweet scent
fills the whole house.
My dark mood vanishes.
The room becomes a sun tower.
All the quotidian maps
of adolescence and mothers
It is spring again in the kitchen
and in the earth the roots begin
to not be afraid.
This poem wasn’t dated, but I believe it was written during my San Diego years in the late nineties, and I have recently been working on a new draft.March is a powerful time of transition in this part of northeastern, Pennsylvania.It is the space where the dark and light and the cold and warmth spar.But my father has always made this month, that can be an oxymoron of frustration and inspiration, a time of sacredness.The bone chilling wind could smack us, but the ground could also open its door for Persephone’s return, the crocuses lifting their still tiny heads to lead her way.The ugly dirt and silt covering remaining snow piles sat along with the returning robins fluttering above.This was the drama of life.
“There’s a patch of old snow in a corner,” is the opening line of a Robert Frost poem which my father recites every March 1 to welcome this complicated month. And I always wait for these words as February closes.I heard my father’s voice even when I was living far away. March 15, the day Romans believed people should settle debts, he echoed the famous ominous caveat given by a soothsayer to the Emperor Caesar, “Beware the Ides of March.” On this day I find myself shuttering a bit and begging the ghosts of Roman Gods to protect me.
We always celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Irish Soda bread swirled with jam and butter and a mug black tea with milk and sugar and now that my brother and I are older a wee bit of Jameson. Irish music plays as we gather around the kitchen table sharing mundane reports of daily life mixed with philosophical discussions blurred at times with those Irish melancholylongings.
E.E. Cummings words “In just Spring when the world is mud luscious” is always my father’s farewell to March as winter retreats recognizing its work is over. The blue sky has breathed new life across the earth.The buds on the trees say hello “and the little goat footed balloonnman whistles far and wee.”
I always took it for granted that I had a magical father. Someone who recited a line from a poem almost every day.Who made time for flowers and tea.Who makes the ordinary miraculous by pointing out the details, by savoring the moments, and encouraging our imaginations to dance.I now realize this is a great gift. I hope that I may even infuse the world with small drop of my father’s elixir of words, rituals and generosity. He helps us appreciate this life that is often contradictory, cold and confusing but March also offers abundance of beautify, possibilities and love.