Although Father’s Day has just recently passed, I received a poem about being a father, from a father, that is very touching—and being a father myself, I need no nudging to showcase another “father” poem here in this column. I am a sucker when it comes to the whole daddy business. I plead guilty.
Ottie Reno lives in Lucasville and writes that, “I wrote this poem for the amusement of my family at Christmas when my family was gathered around my home, where we get together every year. Their reaction to it was a lot of silence and more than a few tears. When I showed it to a few friends and neighbors their reaction was about the same. Their reaction surprised me, to say the least. When I asked one of them what interested him, he said that I described a situation which nearly everyone has lived through and can share.”
Christmas is still a long way off, but I present his poem to you, here, about a very special gift. Maybe you will have a similar reaction as his family and friends—especially if you are a parent.
A Christmas Gift for Daddy
My first grade child once made me a Christmas gift of waste,
A cardboard box with wrappings of tissue, foil and paste.
The box was trimmed with gumdrops, and macaroni, too.
Inside it little white hearts spelled “Daddy, I love you.”
The box is getting old now; I’ve kept it all these years.
The gumdrops ran together; the colors aren’t clear.
But if you lift the cover, the message still is there.
You’ll know then why I kept it on a shelf below the stair.
My children all are grown now; they married, moved away:
And though they all still love me, it’s in a different way.
With age they learned new values that complicated love,
And changed the simple pieces my box was then made of.
I need no gift this Christmas, no King Tut treasures rare;
I have my sticky icon on the shelf below the stair.
Just call it Daddy-drivel, a cairn to memory,
Of little arms around my neck and laughter on my knee.
No gift I get could match it, that box upon the shelf,
A gift I always open when I am by myself.
Thanks to Ottie Reno for sharing this poem, and for reminding us of the most precious sort of gift that lives on and always will.
Address poem submissions and correspondence to: email@example.com or Neil Carpathios, Dept. of English & Humanities, Shawnee State University, 940 Second Street, Portsmouth, Ohio 45662. (740-351-3478).