Thursday, December 22, 2005


Father's Song
by Gregory Orr

Yesterday, against admonishment,
my daughter balanced on the couch back,
fell and cut her mouth.
Because I saw it happen I knew
she was not hurt, and yet
a child's blood's so red
it stops a father's heart.
My daughter cried her tears;
I held some ice
against her lip.
That was the end of it.
Round and round; bow and kiss
I try to teach her caution;
she tries to teach me risk.

My two responses to this poem. First, there are plenty of poems in the mainstream skirting sentimentality on the subject of fathers about their children. But not so much from the mother's P.O.V. Am I wrong? How is it okay for a father's heart to stop by the sight of a child's blood in a poem, but not a mother's? I'll go ahead and venture to guess that a mother's heart is supposed to stop, of course it does, old news. A dad who is supervising his own children and caring for them is worthy of a poem? Mother's need to take back their importance. Mother's should make their experiences newsworthy, shout it out, make them worthy of poems, or even a blog. :)

My second response is that I like this poem. How the cautioning and mending go "round and round," the father is trying to teach, and is being taught something back in the process. Nice. Also, it relates directly to me now as I try to caution my children, niece, and nephew not to jump on and off the couch. And they just look a me with a twinkle in their eyes. What else are couches for?


Blogger reniebob said...

I think maybe the point of the poem (and what makes it different) is that it is showing us a father who goes against the stereotype: one who nurtures, one who needs a child to teach him to take risks. I think that here is a dad taking on a "mother" role, and perhaps that is his role in his family. Who knows? Maybe what we should do is write more poems about ourselves going against the Mom stereotype... isn't that what we do when we admit to our failures and our ambivalence about motherhood? We should write more poems about when we turn a blind eye or make 'em tough it out or show 'em how to take risks by taking them ourselves.

9:45 AM, December 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do we secretly enjoy the martyred mother shroud? What would we do without fathers who create the requirement?

10:24 AM, December 22, 2005  
Anonymous n said...

I like the poem, because it speaks to the relationsip between a parent and child. Particularly drawn to "she tries to teach me to risk." Sentimental poetry about father/child relationships may remain more mainstream because some view sentimentality too cliche when speaking of mother/child relationship or because the need still exists for validation of both the father who nutures and the mother who supports that nuturing without being threatened by it. Perhaps if child rearing became more universally viewed as a role of parents, regardless of gender, it would be easier for all parents to celebrate the realities of parenthood. Imagine the poetry then!

12:39 PM, December 22, 2005  
Blogger J.B. Rowell said...

Lots to think about!

I guess my issue is really about the stereotypes/expected roles - "martyr mom" being one of them. I like your point Irene, effective poetry pushes at these stereotypes and beliefs. I think this poem is all about its ending - and what children can teach us if we pay attention. More later . . .

1:57 PM, December 22, 2005  
Blogger Michelle e o said...

"What would we do without fathers who create the requirement?"

We'd go to the sperm bank with our debit cards.

9:03 PM, December 22, 2005  
Blogger Pris said...

I like the poem gut level and can't say why.

A great blog. I'm going to add you to my links, if you don't mind.

8:53 AM, December 23, 2005  
Blogger J.B. Rowell said...

Too funny Michelle - you made my day! And Pris - mind? Of course I don't mind, I'd be honored. Thanks for coming by, hope you're feeling better . . .

9:02 AM, December 23, 2005  

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