The Gilligan's Island Romance Fan Fiction Site

Story 7: Poetry in Motion

Mary Ann sat at the kitchen table, grading exams. The Professor was in his lab at school, and the twins were on a field trip and would be home late, but Patty, now 17, was due home any minute. Maybe they could do something together, like bake cookies, thought Mary Ann. It had been a while since they'd done anything like that, since Patty was so busy with her schoolwork lately.

Mary Ann looked up and saw the school bus stop outside. Patty got out. Stormed out, actually. She looked terribly upset. What in the world had happened? Patty was usually so calm and logical, like her father.

She was like him in many ways, actually: devoted to her studies, president of the science club and co-captain of the debate team, and totally uninterested in dates, dances and other frivolities of teen-age life. She wore a short, no-fussing-required hairstyle, no makeup, and when she wasn't in her school uniform, simple shirts and jeans.

She came in and slammed her books down on the counter.

"What's wrong, sweetheart?" her mother asked.

"That Mrs. Wolf! I can't believe her!"

"Your English teacher? I thought you liked her."

"I do, but wait till you hear what she wants us to do." Patty took a soda from the refrigerator and leaned against the counter. "We're studying poetry -- those love sonnets by Elizabeth Barrett Browning -- and now Mrs. Wolf wants us to *write* a love poem! No way can I do that!"

"Of course you can. Just think about someone you're very fond of, and write about how that person makes you feel. Isn't there a boy in your physics class you like? What's his name -- Danny?"

"Danny's cool," the girl said, her voice softening. "He's my lab partner, and he's so smart -- *really* smart, like Dad. He's fun to talk to, and listen to" -- she blushed a little -- "and look at. He's really cute. But I don't think I'm in love with him.

"And how would I know anyway? I've never been in love." There was her father's logic returning, along with her irritation. "It's still a stupid assignment. I want to be a scientist, like you and Dad. Scientists don't write poems. Especially love poems."

Mary Ann stood. "Patience Ann Hinkley, come with me," she said. "There's something you need to see."

When Mom calls you by your full name, you'd better listen. Patty put down her soda and followed Mary Ann into the study she and the Professor shared.

Mary Ann opened a bottom desk drawer and produced a yellowed sheet of paper, which she handed to her daughter. "Read this."

Silently, Patty read:

A bird sings,
I identify it.
A flower blooms,
I catalog it.
The weather warms,
I check the barometer.
So it has always been.
But something has changed.
A flower blooms,
I see her smile.
A bird sings,
I hear her voice.
The weather warms,
I feel her touch.
This world of phenomena and formulas,
of specimens and samples,
of causes and effects,
has been transformed.
And I am lost here.

Patty looked up, tears in her eyes. "That's -- sort of -- how I feel about Danny! I keep thinking about him when I'm trying to study, and it makes me crazy! Who wrote this?"

"Your father."

"Dad?" Shock made Patty forget her tears. "Dad writes *poetry*?"

"Yes," said Mary Ann. "Your father told me years ago that when he was in college, an English professor gave him some very wise advice. She knew he was the no-nonsense type, all science and no sentiment. She made him promise that once a year, he would write a poem. Just one. He didn't have to show them to her, or anyone else. It was just to remind himself that there's more to him than his intellect.

"And he did it. Every year -- on his birthday -- he's written a poem. And every year since we've been married, it's been a beautiful love poem."

"Is this one of them?" asked Patty. "It's beautiful, but it's more about being confused than being in love!"

"He wrote that before we got together. He was having these feelings for me but had no idea I felt the same way. I could have written the same poem back then."

"Will you show me the others?"

"No, dear, he wrote them to me, and they're very personal. Besides, wouldn't you be -- what's that expression you kids use? -- `weirded out'? This is your mom and dad we're talking about!"

"You're right," Patty said with a grin. "It's bad enough to hear you call each other 'darling' and 'dearest' and 'my love' all the time. But I'd be more weirded out if you stopped that.

"This helped a lot, though. Now I know what to write. Thanks, Mom."

After Patty had left the room, Mary Ann put the paper back in the drawer and took out several others. These were his love poems to her, sweet and tender verses that expressed all the things he once -- and sometimes, still -- had trouble saying aloud.

She reread them all, smiling and occasionally weeping, and when her husband arrived home a few minutes later, she held him as tightly as she could.

"Sweet Roy," she whispered against his chest, "you are the dearest man in the world, and I am the luckiest woman in the world."

"Are you all right, darling?" he asked, a little taken aback by the depth of her emotion.

"Oh, yes, I'm fine," she said, smiling. "I've just been ... helping Patty with her homework."

"Ah, so her influence rubbed off, and you're acting like a schoolgirl yourself," he teased. "More of one than our serious little Patience. But I like it." He kissed her.

The next day was Saturday. The Professor had an early appointment with a student, and Mary Ann was alone in the kitchen, humming as she fixed breakfast for Patty and the twins.

Patty came down first. "Mom, it's finished. Do you want to see it?" She handed Mary Ann a single sheet of paper. Her poem.

Where did you come from?
Here I was, minding my own business,
and you show up.
Only you're not really here.
I'm just imagining you:
the face I see and the voice I hear every day.
I see and hear you
even when you're not near me,
and all I can think of
is how much I wish you were.

Tears were streaming down Mary Ann's face when she put the paper down. "Mom, are you OK?" asked Patty, alarmed.

"Sweetheart," her mother said, drying her tears, "remember yesterday when I said your dad's poem was something I could have written? I was wrong. *This* is the one that says exactly what was in my heart back then. Is it ... about Danny?"

"Well -- yes," said Patty hesitantly. "I've sort of been thinking about letting him read it, but I'm scared to."

"Oh, Patty, do give it to him. Your father and I almost missed our chance, and if we had, you wouldn't be here! You're still young, and Danny might not turn out to be the love of your life, but you'll never know unless one of you speaks up."

Patty was silent for a minute before saying, "OK, I'll think about it. I have the whole weekend to decide."

On Monday, Patty came running in from the school bus. "Mom! Mom! You won't believe it!"

"What happened?"

"I did it! I gave Danny my poem. Then I walked away. I didn't want to be there when he read it. He came up to me after second period and gave me one. He had the same assignment for English, and his poem was about *me*! It was just like Dad's! About how he's trying to think about work and all he can think about is me.

"Then he asked me to the prom. The prom! Can you believe it? I have to get a dress, and get my hair done ... and my nails ... and I have to call Ashley! And Danielle! And Allison!" She ran upstairs, still talking a mile a minute -- to no one in particular -- about all the things she had to do and the friends she had to tell.

She almost knocked her father down in her mad dash. He came into the kitchen, looking bewildered. "That looked like Patty, but it certainly didn't sound like her," he said. "Prom? Dress? Hair?"

"I guess there's some schoolgirl in our schoolgirl after all," said Mary Ann.

"Could life possibly get any stranger around here?" said the Professor, smiling and slipping his arms around his wife's waist.

She smiled back. "Let me count the ways."
 


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