My Father Holds the Door for Yoko Ono
In New York City for a conference
on weed control, leaving the hotel
in a cluster of horticulturalists,
he alone stops, midwestern, crewcut,
narrow blue tie, cufflinks, wingtips,
holds the door for the Asian woman
in a miniskirt and thigh high
white leather boots. She nods
slightly, a sad and beautiful gesture..
(- by Christopher Chambers , as profiled by
Ted Kooser, US Poet Laureate 2004-2006
Are you ever surprised how a poem can stick in your thoughts? Not in a sad wistful way, nor in a sing-song golightly way. But in a "what was that again?" questioning way.
Just like brushing up against a famous person, a truly famous person... you can't quite grasp it again, but the poem sticks in your memories. My brother and I once ran into the John Glenn, the astronaut. I don't know if he was a senator yet or not - but he certainly was a famous astronaut. Illya and I had decided to spend a hot sticky afternoon riding the elevators in an upscale hotel. Up and down we rode, greeting people at each floor as they entered the spacious elevator. Illya would play 'conductor', pushing the floor buttons for everyone on board. I stood behind all the passengers, not noticable but noticing. It was delightful way to spend our time. Then John Glenn boarded. THE JOHN GLENN. Illya looked at me, I at him, our mouths gaping and weird noises coming out of our lips. I don't remember the rest... and I can't quite capture it again.
Just like Dad holding the door for Yoko Ono - the moment is gone. Does it really need to be remembered?
And thinking of astronauts... E. and I took Sophie the dog to a festival. Hundreds of people - and every kid asking to pet Sophie. Kids always ask "What is her name?". Their parents ask "What kind of dog is she?" We respond that she is a Gordon setter mix. "A what setter?" We are asked over and over. Gordon. Like in.... Like in Gordon Cooper, the astronaut!!!
That answer doesn't work. "Oh, you mean like Jeffy Gordon?". Everyone knows Jeff Gordon, #24. Except me. I'm sticking to my astronauts.