Dec. 2, 2000

For a Daughter Gone Away

by Brendan Galvin

Broadcast date: SATURDAY, 2 December 2000

Poem: “For a Daughter Gone Away,” by Brendan Galvin, found in The Yellow Shoe Poets (Louisiana State University Press).

Today there’ve been moments
the earth falters and almost
goes off in those trails of smoke
that resolve to flocks so far
And small they elude my naming.
Walking the Boston & Maine
roadbed, September, I understand
why it takes fourteen
cormorants to hold the bay’s
rocks down. Have told you
anything you ought to know?
In time you’ll come to learn
that all clichés are true, that
a son’s a son till he marries,
and a daughter’s a daughter
all her life, but today
I want to begin Latin with you
again, or the multiplication
tables. For the that first phrase of
unwavering soprano that came
once from your room, I’d suffer
a year of heavy metal. Let all
who believe they’re ready for
today call this sentimentality,
but I want the indelible
print of a small hand
on the knees of my chinos again,
now that my head’s full of
these cinders and clinkers
that refused fire’s refinements.
I wish I could split myself
to deepen and hold on as
the crossties have, and admit
goatsbeard and chicory,
bluecurls and blazing star,
those weeds of your never quite
coming back. I wish I could stop
whatever’s driving those flocks
and drove the B & M freights into air.

It’s the birthday of soprano Maria Callas, born Maria Anna Sophia Cecilia Kalogeropoulos, in Brooklyn, NY (1923). Her father shortened the family name soon after Maria was born. At 11 she sang “La Paloma” on a radio contest. Her parents separated when she was 13, and her mother took her back to Greece to live, where she attended the Athens National Conservatory. Her first important role was that of Tosca, one of the many with which she would be identified. She made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1956, in the role of Norma. She’s the subject of two plays Terence McNally: The Lisbon Traviata and Master Class.

It’s the birthday of lyricist Adolph Green, born in the Bronx, New York (1915). At New York University, he joined a troupe called the Washington Square Players, where he met his lifelong writing partner, Betty Comden. They collaborated with Leonard Bernstein on the musical Wonderful Town, with Jule Styne on Peter Pan and Bells Are Ringing, and they wrote the screenplay for Singin’ in the Rain.

It’s the birthday of physicist and inventor Peter David Goldmark, born in Budapest, Hungary (1906). In 1954, Goldmark invented a tube that became the industry standard for color television sets. He also invented long-playing record—the “LP”—which held twenty minutes of music on a side.

It’s the birthday of actress and monologist Ruth Draper, born in New York City (1884). Alone on a stage, with a table and a chair, her only costume a shawl, Draper created complete, fully populated dramas.

It’s the birthday of pointillist painter Georges-Pierre Seurat, born in Paris, France (1859). He used a technique he called Divisionism—it later came to be known as Pointillism – where, instead of mixing his colors on the palette, he applied them unmixed in tiny dabs on the canvas, believing they would merge in an “optical mixture” in the viewer’s eye.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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