Saturday, June 15, 2013

Holidays and the latest one, Father's Day


    I’ve never been so aware of holidays, not in the British sense of the word meaning vacation, but specific days to celebrate some event, often military or religious.  As an ESL instructor I go from holiday to holiday.  The latest one was Flag Day.  Last year this was celebrated by very elderly veterans and their wives who arrived to the classes with miniature flags and snacks for the refugees from dozens of countries.  Seen through their eyes, what could it all have meant?  This year we did a simple reading about the flag.  Often I try not to get into the grimmer aspects of US history since I figure they’ll have time for all of that soon enough.

    In Spain holidays came with little explanation and a tendency to extend them into “puentes” or bridges.  That meant there was one December when Constitution Day and the Immaculate Conception  resulted in an entire week off.  There was nothing religious about those days with such religious names. 
   When I was teaching at the University of Barcelona, in addition to the Day of St. Thomas Aquinas, the patron saint of universities, each faculty had a patron saint which was celebrated with a day off.  In case you might have an impression of a culture where no one works, nothing could be further from the truth.  I taught in companies where workers arrived around 8 and stayed that long.  The thing was that people knew how to enjoy their time off and it was a right. 

    So that leads us to Father’s Day.  This was a day I don’t think I ever celebrated but now that I’m on the endless holiday loop, why not? 

   Here’s a poem from my chapbook:


His Life


Ed hopes his father

had a secret life.

My father had many;

two wives before mother,

a son left behind.


The war years

spent in Europe´s darkness,

in uniform,

rooting through trash

for food.


His secret languages

Russian, Polish,

we imitated in childish babble,

I learned sister, pillow, dream.


Siberia of childhood

giant summer fruit,

green winter lights

He brought to a farm,

half a globe away,

leaving a pile of unknowns

a lifetime to decipher.

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