Right now as I write this, I am sitting on my commode, holed up in my salle de bain. Outside the door, my daughters, impersonating the children from the “Lord of the Flies” are trying the knob with nutella-smeared fingers. The knob turns about like something out of a horror “B” flick: slowly and deliberately first counter-clockwise and then even more gingerly in the opposite direction. Then my gaolers speak - sotto voce, “Daddy are you in there?” A pause ensues and then the catch phrase, “We just want to wash our hands.” And I think to myself, ‘Awwww...no! I’m not gonna fall for that one again.’
The worst part of this scenario is that after the knob-turning stops, the scratching at the door ends, the wrapping with knuckles subsides and the voices desist I feel guilty… big time. I mean what kinda father am I anyway? (Rhetorical question - please do not answer.) My girls only want the attention of their father and as far as I know (unless the DNA tests I’ve ordered prove otherwise) that means me. Still I fight tooth and nail for “poetry breaks” and for some semblance of a writer’s studio in my study when my “Complete Works of Emily Dickinson” is not being used as a footrest when my eldest daughter is practicing her guitar.
I put my hands over my ears and keep repeating to myself in mantra-like fashion: “Poetry does not suck!” as a rebuttal to my youngest daughter’s assertions that who reads poetry and who writes this stuff anyway. I am a closet poet. Maybe that should be a new school in contemporary poetry. Certainly many of my poetic acquaintances do not freely admit that they read or “God forbid” write the stuff.
Then there’s my wife. “Dear,” I coo, “I’ve gotten an acceptance by a well known literary print magazine.”
“Oh, really.” she responds, “Is this a paying gig.”
“Well, yea! Sort of.” I counter.
“What do you mean sort of?” she queries.
“They pay me in copies of the issue of the journal and a one year subscription.”
“I see.... So that means we’ll have more poetry books in your study.”
At this point I retire to the WC again.