RITE OF PASSAGE

How is it that this little boy, this first grandchild, this delight of our life, is graduating from college? I’m feeling a bit nostalgic.

So much of our quality time with Sean occurred when he was little, long before he branched out into a wider, more adult existence. But I know that the essence of the little guy who shouted hello to strangers across the street, dove into books with passion, mimicked life with élan, and thought deeply and creatively about the world around him, is the same big Sean today.

On my desk with special books – Andrew Lang’s Blue Fairy Book, I Married Adventure, The Book of Angels, the I Ching – is a copy of the 2003 River of Words, a poetry annual which celebrated young poets across the country, and on page 21, from Carmel Middle School in California, is Sean Fleming, age 13.

Your Majesty, the Oak

Your torso sways in the wind

You are old

You are wise

Your scorched skin, defiled

A pale remembrance of your once royal body

Knobby knees

Persistent woodpeckers

Storing their riches in their bank,

you, leaving nothing but holes in return

Sharp green leaves your only means of defense

no longer effective

Your only happiness left in this cold world

the knowledge that you have given birth to many others

Your children, your acorns,

the only living part of you left after you have fallen

a long awaited rest

You are old

You are wise

You are oak

These days Sean has been editing a poetry journal at Sonoma State.

And preparing to teach English in Thailand.

It doesn’t seem all that long ago that we trudged up a steep hill in Ferndale, California, he and I ahead of the rest of the family, and I said something about them being “slowpokes.”  “Yes,” he said, “and we’re fast pokes!”

Dear Sean – you’re not yet old, but I know you’re wise, and I’m sure you are a fast poke.

Sean today, with Uncles Kevin and Tony

My own poem, written for my son, Kevin, now dedicated to my grandson, Sean:

Small boys with apricot cheeks

Jousting with Arthur, tussling with Pooh

A Wonderland becomes a wonder land

Too soon.

– Bon Voyage. We couldn’t love you more.

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