|Rosemary and Ruth Healey|
Make me a picture of the sun - Emily Dickinson
Make me a picture of the sun –
So I can hang it in my room.
And make believe I’m getting warm
When others call it “Day”!
Draw me a Robin – on a stem –
So I am hearing him, I’ll dream,
And when the Orchards stop their tune –
Put my pretense – away –
Say if it’s really – warm at noon –
Whether it’s Buttercups – that “skim” –
Or Butterflies – that “bloom”?
Then – skip – the frost – upon the lea –
And skip the Russet – on the tree –
Let’s play those – never come!
When I met my Rosemary sometime at the end of 1967 she was secretive about her former life and childhood. I did not know then that some Canadians can be withdrawn. In our 52 years of marriage I never did visit New Dublin, Ontario where she was raised, to my regret. Our daughters did a few times and in 2019 Rosemary, Alexandra and Hilary went there again and met all the other relatives.
I have this possible idea of driving, perhaps in April on my own, to New Dublin. This could be a bad idea as I would run into ghosts.
But then how can I run into the ghost of a little girl if I never did know Rosemary as a little girl?
All that changed when I noticed a cardboard box in our Kitsilano piano room with figurines. My daughter Ale’s handwriting identified what was to be found inside. Rosemary was called Abi by our eldest granddaughter and the name stuck. It is sort of short for abuelita, or little grandmother in Spanish.
Rosemary and I often read Ogden Nash’s poems and the one about the little boy, that inexorably marries a little girl when they grow up, was one of our favourites.
I never thought of myself as that nasty little boy but looking at these figurines my heart dissolved into a melancholic grief, a tender one, as I marvelled at the novel idea that my Rosemary had been a little girl and I had never seen that in her. I was too blind, and somehow while a bit late, I am trying to make up for that infantile failure.
Will I go to New Dublin and imagine my Rosemary as a little girl? I wish I could hug that little girl in the photograph.
Song To Be Sung by the Father of Infant Female Children - By Ogden Nash
My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky;
Contrariwise, my blood runs cold
When little boys go by.
For little boys as little boys,
No special hate I carry,
But now and then they grow to men,
And when they do, they marry.
No matter how they tarry,
Eventually they marry.
And, swine among the pearls,
They marry little girls.
Oh, somewhere, somewhere, an infant plays,
With parents who feed and clothe him.
Their lips are sticky with pride and praise,
But I have begun to loathe him.
Yes, I loathe with loathing shameless
This child who to me is nameless.
This bachelor child in his carriage
Gives never a thought to marriage,
But a person can hardly say knife
Before he will hunt him a wife.
I never see an infant (male),
A-sleeping in the sun,
Without I turn a trifle pale
And think is he the one?
Oh, first he'll want to crop his curls,
And then he'll want a pony,
And then he'll think of pretty girls,
And holy matrimony.
A cat without a mouse
Is he without a spouse.
Oh, somewhere he bubbles bubbles of milk,
And quietly sucks his thumbs.
His cheeks are roses painted on silk,
And his teeth are tucked in his gums.
But alas the teeth will begin to grow,
And the bubbles will cease to bubble;
Given a score of years or so,
The roses will turn to stubble.
He'll sell a bond, or he'll write a book,
And his eyes will get that acquisitive look,
And raging and ravenous for the kill,
He'll boldly ask for the hand of Jill.
This infant whose middle
Is diapered still
Will want to marry My daughter Jill.
Oh sweet be his slumber and moist his middle!
My dreams, I fear, are infanticiddle.
A fig for embryo Lohengrins!
I'll open all his safety pins,
I'll pepper his powder, and salt his bottle,
And give him readings from Aristotle.
Sand for his spinach I'll gladly bring,
And Tabasco sauce for his teething ring.
And an elegant, elegant, alligator
To play with him in his perambulator.
Then perhaps he'll struggle through fire and water
To marry somebody else's daughter.