Sunday, June 21, 2020

Revisiting Summer Solstice/Father’s Day—Slightly Out of Sync Murfin Verse

The Green Man, pagan ruler of Midsummer.

Five years ago Father’s Day fell on June 21, which was Summer Solstice.  Such calendar coincidences move me to the commission of poetry like a prune juice and X-Lax smoothie facilitates an explosive bowl movement.  Depending on your outlook the results may be equally as messy and disgusting. This year the Solstice fell yesterday, June 20 with Father’s Day hot on its heels today. Close enough to revisit some old verse.
Some ancient peoples marked the Solstice occasion with such astonishing precision involving monoliths, mounds, and monuments that it has enabled a basic cable cottage industry of pseudo-science documentaries speculating about aliens.  But for many others, the precise date was hard to pin down.  Changes to the length of day were too subtle to be measured precisely.  Instead they spread out the celebration over a cluster of days under various names.  Modern Pagans, who have made up a lot of stuff to fill in the gaps of what is known call those days Litha after and old Anglo-Saxon name for a summer month.  Taken together the various pre-Christian celebrations are often lumped together as Midsummer, as good a name as any.

The Old Man as Green Man, ready to sprout oak leaves.
Was Father’s day, at least subconsciously set in spitting distance of Midsummer if not on the precise day?  Probably not.  But there are those who say that there is no such thing as pure coincidence.  Call it kismet or serendipity, it was enough to set my head spinning and impel my fingers on the keyboard.

My father, W. M. Murfin in Cheyenne, 1959.

Summer Solstice/Father’s Day
June 21, 2015

Perhaps, after all, I am the Green Man,
            and my Father before me
                        who took to the woods with rod and rifle
            and his father before him
                        who grew strawberries by the porch
            and the fathers before  him
                        who were orchard men in Ohio
            and back to those earlier yet
                        who pulled stones from Cornish fields
                        for their masters.

Save the complexion, I look the part enough
            With shaggy goatee, wild eyebrows,
                        and neglected hair which could sprout
                        oak and ivy.

But my wild forest years are well behind me,
            I plant nothing but my feet on the sidewalk
                        and my butt in a desk chair,
            I raise nothing but questions, concerns,
                        and indignation,
            my fertility was snipped away
                        long decades past
            my virility—don’t make me laugh,
                        no Goddess  awaits in a glade
                        under the triumphant Sun.

Perhaps I am not the Green Man after all
            just an old fool and fraud,
            but, hey, isn’t that all that is needed
            to be just Dad instead.

—Patrick Murfin

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