Collected Poems of John Holmes
Holmes, John A., Jr.
Small stranger, and new woman in our house, my only daughter,
Welcome! Come in, come in! it's all yours, for always,
Beginning with the sterile diapers that just came, and the
The silver spoon from Sandy and Emmy, engraved with M N H,
And ending beyond where I'll know, I wish you long long years,
Margaret, Margaret, Meg, Peg, Peggy, Gretl, Greta, not Maggie,
Not even home yet, you almost seven-pound, you strong-will.
The word-of-mouth is that you will be spoiled by your brothers,
Aided and abetted by your father, mother, and etc. relatives.
Johnny is eighteen, plays the guitar, big good-natured blonde.
Evan is four, fast on his feet, talks a blue streak. Look out
for Evan. You will like your mother. I am an expert at it.
But Margaret, what a host surrounds you at your birth and
Neighbors and cousins, the Kirks, the Greenes, the Helmses, the
Magures, the Tufts people, deans and professors. Doctors, too.
George Heals and T.B. Brazelton and Mrs. Crane, hospital nurses
And aides and the fine anesthetician, florists. Bo-Peep Diaper.
$3.75 for the first hundred. Charles Engvall, the Unitarian
I want to have a serious talk with you, Margaret, Peg, Meg.
Unitarian like your father, or Episcopalean like your mother?
Gardner Day and Betty Rosenthal, or me and Ralph Waldo Emerson?
We'll make it fun for you. Welcome home, Margaret my daughter.
At your bedside, night and day, and years and years to come
Margaret, a host of angels hovers, all those names, and more,
I'll show you the cards of congratulation sometime, you'll be bored.
I'll even keep the empty cans of evaporated milk, and the bills
From the hospital for all the telephoning your dear mother did
To tell everyone all about you, and all about her stitches.
Listen, kid. What I really want to know is, are you going to be
Stong-minded and expensive and a hundred and fifteen percent
Female, unpredictable, endearing, bad-tempered in the mornings,
Or are you going to be like your father? Me, that is. Pleasant,
Good-looking easy-going, very even-tempered, patient, generous.
Also very talented in the writing line. Atlantic etc. New Yorker etc.
This host of angels round your bed (back room third floor 11 Edison)
Blesses and benefacts you (Margaret) and I add your name
To all the names I have not named. I feel them round you, and me.
When you come home, they will all be here, your mother I love so,
And somehow in nice cloudy ranks this host, ancestors of yours now,
And mine. Don't mind the mistiness. Yell if you want to. There'll
Be lots and lots of people listening, nearby, and back centuries.
And mine. Don't mind the mist
Margaret. All I really care about is the name and you. Come home.
Brothers and rooms are waiting for you. And your mother and the
Happy years. Doris Kirk Holmes. John Albert Holmes. John Ludlow
Homes. Evan Kirk Homes. Margaret Nash Holmes. Welcome home.
Effa and Edna and Geraldine, Electa Nash. Mary and Ella and Alice.
Welcome home. Welcome home. Maybe you'd better hold my hand -
Maybe this regiment will keep you awake, marching past your crib.
Somehow I don't think anything, even these old people, or even
That Evan your brother, the terror, or Johnny, that giant,
Can scare you. Or me, or your tyrant, that mother you brought
Home from the fountain and factory of Margarets and Mothers.
This love letter is strictly a love-letter. You understand that.
I love you, and I hope you will learn to love me. Fifty-fifty?
No, that isn't a fair split. I can't sincerely and really say
It can be that way, when I think of the years of formula, And!
You do what your mother says. And And is the important word.
And includes everything, the TO BE CONTINUED, the ETCETERA.
Margaret. Margaret. You are the next chapter. Do what your mother says.
Do what your mother tells you to do, as your father has done.
You might get to be Boss Anger, Number Two Hundred Sixty One,
The fact is, Margaret, I took one look at you and promoted you
To Boss Angel Coadjucator, Two Six Two.) You will go very far.
But right now, Johnny and Evan, your two handsome noisy brothers,
Think they want to coddle you, and bring you liddle toys, etc.
Margaret, my only daughter and your mother's female child, I
Suspect this will not work out. Your brother Evan is a ham, and
Talks about bringing you rattles. Your really big brother, Johnny,
Knows better, but not much better. They will try to spoil you.
That big old gray-headed monster (your father, damn it,-me!)
Who will be hanging around your crib, and your wonderful mother,
Will do his best to help your brothers spoil you, with love.