A Father’s Day Poem For Dad


Fred First
Fred First

For all the times you made me hold that darned ladder;

For all the times you said, “if you throw that tennis racquet again, we’re going home,” and I threw the tennis racquet again, and we went home;

For that time you wanted to go hiking in the Smokies, and I wanted to go to Amy Harris’s pool party, and I pitched such a fit halfway to the Smokies that you turned the car around and drove us home at breakneck speeds, only to give in half an hour later after I pitched another fit, and we went to the Smokies, and had a nice time;

For beating me every time at every sport and every game, many years after I was sure I was better than you;

For the thirty-seven times you told me the name of the same green-metallic beetle, while each time I was thinking about some girl or some song I’d like to write, or some song I’d like to write about some girl, only half an hour later to see a green metallic beetle, and wonder what kind it was;

For the times you crushed between your fingers something sweet-smelling, or sharp-smelling, or minty-smelling, or putrid, and shoved it toward my nose, saying, “Nature snort;”

For all the arguments we’ve had about religion, and all the agreements we’ve had about politics;

For all the times we’ve called each other “smart-a–,” audibly or otherwise;

For every time you should’ve made fun of me for the way I split wood, and the vast majority of times that you did;

For all those really stupid ideas I’ve had, which you vehemently opposed, until you knew I’d go through with them anyway, at which point you supported me;

For all those trips I’ve taken, and you’ve secretly worried about, even while you tried to project all your concerns for me onto “my mother;”

For teaching me to light the water heater—and to rake with full, efficient strokes, and curse at the weed-whacker, and spread the peanut-butter clean out to the crust;

For all the creative ways you punished me, with just enough consequence to sting, and just enough humor to tell stories about later;

For finding your craft, your voice, and a fulfilling sense of place—for living my aspiration and giving me a sense of belonging, even as odd as I feel to live vicariously through my father;

For all those times, all those lessons, all your friendship and love, this father’s day I bought you an ice-cold bottle of beer,

Which I’m drinking now as I write you this poem,

All the while thinking, man, he would’ve enjoyed this.

Thanks, Dad. Love you. I’ll spot you that beer sometime. — NLF