View From a Michigander’s Keyboard ~ Theodore Roethke

In honor of upcoming Fathers’ Day and in celebration of a Michigan writing life, allow me to present the following:


My Papa’s Waltz

by Theodore Roethke (1908 – 1963)


The whiskey on your breath

Could make a small boy dizzy;

But I hung on like death:

Such waltzing was not easy.


We romped until the pans

Slid from the kitchen shelf;

My mother’s countenance

Could not unfrown itself.


The hand that held my wrist

Was battered on one knuckle;

At every step you missed

My right ear scraped a buckle.


You beat time on my head

With a palm caked hard by dirt,

Then waltzed me off to bed

Still clinging to your shirt.

Theodore Roethke’s image above was found on Roethke was born in Saginaw, Michigan in 1908. Today the house he grew up in is a National Literary Landmark, and serves as a museum and venue for a number of literary events such as readings and community workshops. For more information go to -PMc←

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