Saturday, August 22, 2009

Knocked up, but not out

Just finished reading Accidentally on Purpose: A One-Night Stand, My Unplanned Parenthood, and Loving the Best Mistake I Ever Made byMary Pols. Needless to say, Dan Quayle would not like this book. I, however, did. I always wonder how single parents do it, especially after having a kid of my own. When Pols gets knocked up after a one night stand, she decides to keep the baby and her hook-up becomes a very steady, though complicated, part of her life in the role of the baby's father. Meanwhile, Pols also has to deal with the loss of both of her parents. Accidentally on Purpose complicates the idea of what makes a family and who decides what those rules are.

What is the connection to poetry or monkeys you ask? Well, there's no connection to monkeys, but Pols's father wrote poetry and became very serious about it near the end of his life.
"He had things he wanted to do. The previous fall he'd finished a poetry manuscript, elegant, formal poems that knitted acriss the breadth of his life, from his days as a young man in World War II to his years as a caregiver to my mother. He'd enlisted [his daughter] Wib as his literary agent, and he'd been pestering her to track down editors at the few publishing houses that still bothered with poetry. She'd walk into his room and he'd ask if any mail had come from the editor of the Sewanee Review, or from an obscure contest out in Michigan that sounded promising. He'd also finished a new philosophy manuscript, and he wanted her to do something with that too. He was a man who was not yet done with life, even if, it seemed, life was done with him."

While he was dying, Pols and her siblings read their father's poetry to him. The poem, "The Winter Hexagon," is about death, specifically his own. The first four lines are, "When I was young and full of careless vigor, / I often thought the end of life should be embraced / in some old pagan way one's heard of; go forth / to meet with dignity what must in any event come."

Read more of the book here:

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