The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Poem for Monday


My Papa's Waltz
By Theodore Roethke


The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.

We romped until the pans
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother's countenance
Could not unfrown itself.

The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle.

You beat time on my head
With a palm caked hard by dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt.

--------

Another from Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in The Washington Post Book World. Pinsky calls Roethke "an unfashionable and therefore challenging figure in a period when young poets can study all sorts of sly bet-hedging. Maybe every period has its fashionable shortcuts to sophistication: a kind of easy irony or an ambiguous commitment to one's words or a postmodern muttering -- all provide a kind of exit strategy." Taking this poem together with the one in yesterday's entry, Pinsky adds, "In contrast, Roethke's 'The Waking' and 'My Papa's Waltz' have conviction: a full-throated quality that carries them beyond mere styles and periods. These poems have their mysteries and ambiguities, the unspecified balance of fear and attraction in that waltz...but the emotional pressure is unwavering. Such poems are built to last."

Note: this shall be an entirely domestic post, with the exception of descriptions of Star Wars birthday accoutrements. Feel free to turn away now. *g* We had my younger son's birthday party Sunday since most of his friends will be out of town on vacation or at camp in July on his actual birthday. Last year he wanted a laser tag party, but this year we convinced him to have another rock climbing party as everyone had had a great time the year before at the climbing gym. This is ideal in many ways, as it involves exercise, the kids learn a few rudimentary skills there is no shooting involved, and we get the climbing gym all to ourselves rather than sharing with possibly two other birthday parties and numerous individuals all running around at the same time. We had an after-lunch party, too, which meant that we did not have to deal with mediocre pizza (we'd had plenty at the soccer party, anyway) but could instead serve hummus, veggies, and the things the kids actually ATE like M&Ms, donut holes, Cheetos that turn green in your mouth, etc.

So the kids climbed for about an hour and a half, even the ones whose mothers swore they would never go above the yellow line which is the highest they're allowed to go without adult supervision, then those of us running the party went to feed the kids cake while the other adults hanging around (including my mother!) put on harnesses and climbed. I believe that vertigo66's DH was the only one to attempt the really difficult wall, though. (I didn't climb; I had to make sure everyone got the Diet Coke that they swore their mothers would not mind them drinking even though we had fruit punch, Sprite and other things I consider very slightly more child-appropriate.) Afterward we came home to open presents and feed the highly distracted cats, then my parents took the kids to the school while apaulled and I cleaned up and tried to answer the great philosophical question, "Is cheese dip made mostly of chemicals that has been sitting out at a birthday party for over two hours safe to refrigerate and eat later?"

Since my parents had the kids anyway they invited us over for dinner, so we went and ate Greek food, then came home and tried to do things like make people practice the violin, help clean the gerbil cages and straighten up their rooms when they wanted to play Runescape, having been deprived all day. But the party seems to have been a success, even the goody bags which contained Pirates of the Spanish Main cards and inspired much trading (I got the pack that would have gone to a kid who never RSVPed had he shown up, and got two British ships including a little rare sloop, the Albion, heh). And now I am very, very tired, and wondering how I am going to survive when school lets out for the summer on Wednesday!

ETA: And OH! My younger son's soccer team did finish in first place for the season, because the team in second place lost. I did not want to encourage rooting against someone just to end up on top, but I am not sorry things worked out this way. *g*


apaulled made the cake -- Obi-Wan and Anakin fighting in the lava pit from Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith.


The climbers are not allowed to cross the yellow line without being spotted by someone roped to their harnesses.


Grandma Linda climbs above the yellow line!


And here, way above the yellow line, a climber approaches the ceiling.
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