Birches

birches_on_sunnydayPoetry is for women.

Well, there was a time before when poetry was for men too, as it is again. The word ‘poetry’ gets a bad rap in how it is aligned with…Roses are red, violets are purple, etc.” And of course, if someone calls it poetry, then I suppose it IS poetry. Some of the problem stems from the all-encompassing nature of the word ‘poetry’; I doubt a book with only three words would be called a novel, or a song….oh wait a minute, “The tide is high and I’m moving on…”

…and poetry is supposed to conjure up sweet things, like, write a poem to a sweetheart. Well, I assure you I could whip up a poem to an old sweetheart, and perhaps they to me, that would make a shiny tin roof, sitting in the hot sun on a sweltering august afternoon, go cold as ice.

I have always had an affinity for poetry. It came from my mother, but it actually stems back to my father. He was little schooled, as compared to my Mom, who was a teacher. He worked the store and the salmon factory that were his Father’s; his indenture commencing at a very young age when school came second to having to make a living. But I remember, on occasion when he gathered in the store, late in the evening just before closing, with a few of his friends. I’m sure a beer or two was being consumed, but I remember best the poetry: The face on the Barroom floor, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Sea Fever, et al.

Grown men, fishermen, with calloused hands and lined faces well before their age, reciting poetry from memory. I have no idea if they recited the entire poem, but I do remember that each went on for some time, and all the others would listen.

My mom would recite bits of poetry now and again. She was a lover of Robert Frost, as I am today.

Poems are like old friends. Yes, old songs stick to you, you could say. But an old poem not only sticks to who and where you heard it, it gathers a myriad of events along the way and creates a small but detailed memory of special moments in your life, not just one.

With little searching I can now take a poem that attached itself to me back when I was a youth, and, rolling it forward, I can linger on a variety of moments when I read it again, or recited it from memory.

Just yesterday my son posted a picture of him cutting down trees, and I remembered the poem ‘Birches’ as it is among my favorites. It immediately casts me back to where Len and I would climb the birched and swing down. I found the poem later in life, and I remember when I was not among trees that poem came to produce them for me. I remember when I knew I would no longer climb trees, and found the words of the poem a sweet memory; and now it marks a time when I find my son as a man who knows trees.

Women have always known the way. We men should learn to ask for direction.