Friday, September 3, 2010

A very global Father's Day

It's an odd thing but, while Mother's Day is the same worldwide, Father's Day differs everywhere.  It's June in a lot of places (including the US, where my own father lives), but Sept in the Antipodes (where I am), March in Italy, and Dec in Bulgaria - just to pick a few places at random.  Wherever you are, it's never a bad time to give your dad a little nudge and wave, and maybe even a hug if you're in proximity.  This Father's Day, I'd like to honor my grandfather, who is no longer alive, but with whom I had a kind of special affinity.  He wasn't a particularly easy man to get along with, but I always found his company pleasurable, his stories rich, and his energy well aligned with my own.  Here's a little poem I wrote for him. 

Grandpa’s Birds

In the stark reflection of his blue eyes,
bluer than the cloud filled sky (no clouds – even the cataracts are gone)
which opens out above his grave
there are pigeons.

Pigeons emerging from their cardboard box
a surprise gift of joy and youth
filling the otherwise world-weary air
from one grandparent to the other
from one village to the next
their homing instinct
so different from mine
so sure.

I stood there, a child frozen in time
small, awestruck
watching them disappear.

He watched them arrive
as he knew they would
his faithful pigeons
my message on their legs
safe in their coops on the roof
he took one out, stroked its wing muscles
cooing his deepest secrets
those inarticulate dreams English couldn’t handle
the broken heart, that eventually stopped his own flight.

In his sightless eyes
the birds still fly
a freedom he knew, instinctively
even when utterly grounded
a man of the sky
returning always to his home.

Imagining the Future: Ruminations on Fathers and Other Masculine Apparitions (Volume 1)"Grandpa's Birds" is reprinted from the book Imagining the Future: Ruminations on Fathers and Other Masculine Apparations, written in collaboration with Carolyn Howard-Johnson.  It forms part of our celebration series.   The poem also won the Lake Macquarie Literary Awards local poet prize. 


  1. My grandfather told me wonderful stories, too. Thanks for sharing about yours.

  2. Maggie, what a beautiful poem. And, I never knew father's day is different around the world. Boy, live and learn!

  3. I absolutely love this poem!! It's rich is multiple meanings. My dad had turquoise eyes and flew pigeons too. It touched my heart.