Friday, February 13, 2015

I Wish I'd Written This

Happy Birthday to My Father
By Pearl Ketover Prilik

I sing the song of my father
every particle of my being
today infused with him as
though he stands beside me
and has never left – though
he did vanish one hot
August morning - sunlight
burning through white
coverlets – though I felt
His heart beat three times
Once – Twice – Thrice
under my palm and
then stop – he did not die

I sing the song of my father
Who left with black hair
glinted with silver in his
Sixtieth year – slipped from
any coil mortal or otherwise
but for the coil that holds my
heart pounding my soul still –

I sing the song of my father
He turned my head to
the first cloud in my first
sky - to the wind in the shimmer
of sun filigreed leaves to the
sea rippling – as he drifted sand
through fingers and we sat
Together watching a tiny flag
on the top of a curlicued  
Castle tilt and fall into the
Onrushing tide. 

I sing the song of my father
In the eyes of all who work hard
and deserve respect and those
who cannot find work through
limitation or exclusion.  In the
wonder of all that sprang natural
and all that rose from the mind
of men and women –

I sing
The song of my father who turned
my face to cobalt and burnt sienna
the shock of turpentine on a clear
morning a blank canvas holding all

I sing the song of my father
in the crabs that poked from
the mud on the day on the pier
while he painted and the sun
began to slip below gilding all
In that silent sacred place to
Which he granted me entrance.

I sing the song of my father – to
Sun burnt ribs that rippled under
Young flesh – to his ebony hair
To the taste of salt on his young
Flesh as he carried me far out
Into the sea. 

I sing the song of my father
to that crinkle nose secret
smile he passed to my mother
as they sang from song-sheets
To his eyes closed in ecstasy as
Music shook the walls around
and I peeked from my own
encouraged experience to see
A tear trailing at crescendo

I sing the song of my father as
I feel his hand in mine strong
Ever present – singing in the
Shimmer of leaves in a willow
Rustling in chestnut blossoms
Soaring on the velvet tip of
A blued jay on a clear day
Returning caw for call

I sing the song of my father
As he stood watching my ride
On a carousel light slanting
Through high window – calliope
Playing waiting for me with
Open arms to jump – I jump
I sing – the song of my father
Holding my newborn son
in aquamarine waters high
above his head – diamond
droplets falling about them
I sing the song of my father
Coffee cups before us
Words flying as red cardinals
soaring from- between –above

I sing the song of my father
I sing in memory, in reflection
In honor, in dedication and
In love – I feel his presence in
the air that brushes my cheek
In every particle of my being
and though I thought it a wonder
that he left when his hair was
mostly black and his back straight
when he could bend and rise
From the earth of his gardens hands
rich with fragrant loam – Left still
young enough
I see him now – hair white –
The slightest stoop as he stands
Shining in the blaze of sun
Beams shooting dancing rays
For it is from
His lips - I sing his song
Forever with the life he
Lent to me.

Happy 85th birthday Daddy

Hang on — shouldn't I be posting something nice and romantic for Valentine's Day? Perhaps ... but good fathering is what enables little girls to grow up into adult relationships with men.

When Pearl posted this on facebook recently in honour of her father, I found it irresistible. It is now some weeks past his birthday, as I had other posts to share with you first, but obviously it's fitting to celebrate on any and every day the fact that a man such as this was born and went on to become a father — clearly a good man, who loved life. Thank you, Pearl, for bringing him alive for us as well as yourself, and reminding us of the great value of all apparently ordinary lives which are really full of meaning.

I like the nod to Walt Whitman, too. Pearl says, 'It was my father who introduced me to Song of Myself when I was a small child — I could never read it again without thinking of him.'

Many of us know Pearl (or PKP as she is also known) through her involvement with online poetry groups and communities including this one. You perhaps know that she is also a psychoanalyst and psychotherapist who has had her own practice for 20 years, and that she is the author of books on stepmothering and being a stepchild, as well as the editor of two anthologies of poetry. I know her as a great encourager of other poets, and a person with a tender heart that is easily touched. I think it's only poetic justice that she should touch our hearts in turn with this poem to her father!

She gave me this account of her background:

As should be obvious, (Dr.) Pearl Ketover Prilik was an inveterate "Daddy's girl," with good reason.  Her father was a very young artist (painter) with a congenital, inoperable heart malformation. Due to these circumstances PKP was born unexpectedly to very young parents in her father's hospital bed the night prior to his unsuccessful heart surgery (another story unto itself). PKP's  father was not expected to live longer than two years at the outside.  Her mother was still in her teens and thus PKP began her life in the midst of a grand romantic drama between two young lovers on the precipice of expected tragedy. Given her father's prognosis, his artistic temperament and his long recuperation at home, PKP was greatly influenced by her young father's rather transcendental world view alongside her mother's indomitable 'can-do' attitude. PKP believes in the ephemeral magic of life itself  and contends that poetry is the language that best suits the expression of the felt and experienced beauty and wonder of all in, on, and beyond, this spinning blue marble we all share. 

You can find her books at Amazon and you will find more of her poetry at her blog, Imagine.

(And if you'd still like a romantic poem for Valentine's Day, Knopf is doing that: here.)

Poems and photos used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remain the property of the copyright holders (usually their authors).


  1. but for the coil that holds my
    heart pounding my soul still –

    You give this to us, to your children. Oh! Thank you, Pearl!

  2. Oh my goodness Rosemary ! I am touched and moved - frankly - beyond articulation. Thank you for highlighting this piece and your wonderful words about my father, about me and about love. The warmth of it all is swirling around me like an all embracing hug. I consider myself gloriously "valentined!"

  3. I missed this the first time on FB. It's wonderful and magical in its cadence and rhythm. Beautiful work, Pearl.

    1. Aww Claudsy - Magical? Love that - just love that comment <3
      Thank you.

  4. Pearl, this remains perhaps the most beautifully glorious song of love to a parent that I have ever read. What a man! What a daughter! What a poem, every word and line of which transcends, and lifts the reader's heart along with it. I am happy he made it to sixty and that you had such a glorious relationship. Your life story DEMANDS a memoir, dont you think? I would definitely read it. Thank you, Rosemary. I think this is my fave Friday feature so far, all the more delightful as Pearl is one of our own.

    1. Oh my goodness Sherry ! Thank you seems such a trifling appreciation. I am delighted, exhilarated abd humbled all at once by your wonder-full words. You remain one of my favorite poets and your comment touches me to my very core.

  5. Replies
    1. Yes Moonie - it was and is a love story. I thank you deeply <3

  6. Pearl, this really is a beautiful, beautiful poem. So very touching & from the heart. The love between father and daughter is unmistakable. Rosemary, what a great choice; and thank you for also including some fascinating biographical information as well. I always look forward to reading Pearl's poetry on Sunday in the Pantry. We really are fortunate here at PU to have such high quality writers among us. Thank you, Rosemary and Pearl, for a wonderful read today.

    1. Awww Mary - what a wonderful comment - I am humbled - I am delighted that you enjoy my work on Sunday in the Pantry and grateful that there is a Pantry where I can place some of my poems. Thank you :)

  7. What a marvelous way to honour love, your father, his life, and yours...this is simply a tour de force and one "I wish I had written" as well, Pearl. Rosemary has an uncanny knack for picking the best poem for each occasion but never settles for the obvious - this time she's outdone herself. Congrats to you both. This is a poem to be savoured; read, and re-read. I love that it's been posted here.

    1. Ooh! I'm so pleased you experience my posts that way! *Big smile.*

    2. S.E. awww thank you .... to have you write that this tribute is "to be savored; read, and re-read."... Oh my! Thank you from my heart and across my soul - my father would be thrilled :)

  8. Oh my goodness - to you all - You have moved me to tears - Thank you beyond words for your beautiful response to what is for many lucky little girls such as myself the template for love <3

    1. 'The template for love' - THAT'S what I was trying to say, above. :)

  9. I echo the others and add my heartfelt sentiment - what a moving post...thank you Pearl and Rosemary!! ♥

    1. Thank you Hannah and YES! Thank you Rosemary again and again and again - I sing the song of RNW! <3

    2. Ha ha, I'm only as good as my material!

    3. A weaver can have some good yarn but only an artistic weaver can create the sorts of tapestries you weave :). Thank you again for all.

  10. Pearl among poets, you have given us the perfect picture of your father, and I wish I had written it! Your words are a moving tribute.

    1. Than you Viv "Pearl among poets". Oh my :). Delighted you enjoyed.

  11. What an absolutely beautiful poem. Clearly, a father's love leaves indelible memories to cherish and PKP has captured hers perfectly.

  12. Oh Myrna thank you - so very much appreciated. :)

  13. really cool awsome post keep sharing Fathers Day Quotes


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