Oct. 18, 2006

Waking Up My Daughter

by Greg Kosmicki

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Poem: "Waking Up My Daughter" by Greg Kosmicki, from Some Hero of the Past. © Word Press. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Waking up My Daughter

I am sitting in sunlight reading
when Debbie calls to talk from some store
to ask me what size coat she should buy me.
We decide I don't need a new coat.

It is mid-morning on a Saturday.
I go upstairs to wake my daughter
who is twenty-one years old
and who has a psychology test to study for.

I lean down to kiss her and it is then
I see for the first time in her life
how much she looks like my mother
when she was this age, the rest of life

as they say, ahead of her.

Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of writer Thomas Love Peacock, (books by this author) born in Weymoth, England (1785). His most successful novel was Nightmare Abbey (1818), but he became famous for an incident when he was an old man. In 1865, a fire broke out in his house one night. He retreated to his library and refused to leave, shouting, "By the immortal gods, I will not move!" The fire was extinguished and he was not hurt.

It's the birthday of cowboy and writer H. L. Davis, (books by this author) born in Roseburg, Oregon (1894), in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.

It's the birthday of the playwright Wendy Wasserstein, (books by this author) born in Brooklyn, New York (1950). She's best known for her play The Heidi Chronicles (1988), about a woman who has clung to her all her feminist ideals while all of her friends have given them up.

It's the birthday of one of the great American journalists of the 20th century, A.J. (Abbott Joseph) Liebling, born in New York (1904). He got his first real writing job working at the New York World, and began writing about New York City saloons and nightclubs, racetracks and corner stores, gourmet restaurants and boxing rings. His favorite subjects were food, journalism, and boxing.

In 1939, he began to cover the war in Europe for The New Yorker. Unlike other war correspondents, Liebling didn't write about politics or combat strategy. He wrote about day-to-day life among the soldiers and the civilians. He later said that he missed the war years. He wrote, "The times were full of certainties: We could be certain we were right—and we were—and that certainty made us certain that anything we did was right, too. I have seldom been sure I was right since. ... I know that it is socially acceptable to write about war as an unmitigated horror, but subjectively at least, it was not true, and you can feel its pull on men's memories at the maudlin reunions of war divisions. They mourn for their dead, but also for war."

A. J. Liebling also said, "Cynicism is often the shamefaced product of inexperience."

It's the birthday of novelist Rick Moody, (books by this author) born in New York City (1961). He grew up in suburban Connecticut, and went on to graduate school at Columbia, but he dropped out after a year because he spent most of his time drinking. He had a hard time paying his rent or holding a job. He said, "I was a clerk at [a bookstore] and I got fired after one month. They said, 'We really like you and we respect you as a writer, but this cash register thing is just not working out.'"

He finally checked himself into a mental hospital, got sober, and then he wrote his first novel, Garden State, about young people growing up in the industrial wasteland of New Jersey. His novel The Diviners came out last year (2005).

It's the birthday of the novelist Terry McMillan, (books by this author) born in Port Huron, Michigan (1951). Her novel Waiting to Exhale (1992) was one of the first novels to portray affluent African Americans, who don't have to struggle against racism or poverty. McMillan said, "I don't write about victims. They just bore me to death. I prefer to write about somebody who can pick themselves back up and get on with their lives."

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




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