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Posts Tagged ‘daughter’

Missing My Dad

I hate riding in boats,
the way it makes
my body want to turn
inside out, hate the way
my body rocks for hours
after I’m back on land.
But I love the way
my father’s hands
rest on the wheel,
the way his eyes
scan the waves,
the easy slope
of his shoulders.
He’s so himself,
so whole, so someone
who I’m glad to know.
Standing on shore,
I wave at his boat,
as he points it
toward the deep.
He waves back
and smiles
with great love.
There are many
kinds of oceans—
time is one.
I hate the distances
we keep.

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George of the Jungle




My father sings
and I am again
a girl being bounced
on his lap, wondering
if there really is
a jungle somewhere
where a monkey eats nails,
and why would a monkey do that,
and doesn’t it hurt?

My father is laughing,
his eyes glitter with tropical shine,
and I understand
he is traveling in a world
of imagination
and gave me
an invitation to go with him—

fifty years later,
we are still swinging
through that curious jungle,
singing, wondering
about that crazy monkey,
his strange choices,
blessing these surprising worlds
that bring us
together.

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Dessert


 
Tonight it is cocoa powder,
flour, sugar and vanilla
that bring me and my daughter
together. The kitchen our mixing bowl,
time our whisk. The more we’re together
the more we laugh. How easily
distinct ingredients become a whole.
Easy as following a recipe
for chocolate cake, we slip
into the familiar banter,
the joyful two-step, the sweetness
we’ve been distilling since she
could first hold her own spoon.
In the air, hum of the oven preheating,
sound of us teasing, clang of the whisk
against the glass bowl. The cake,
it’s basically a delicious artifact,
a testament to this scent
of intimacy, like chocolate cake,
only much, much richer.

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Evolution




We drove seven hours,
and half the time it snowed
so I kept my eyes fixed
to the slushy road, but
there was the moment
when I looked at my girl
in the passenger seat
and fell in love in an instant
and stroked her hair
and she, catching my gaze,
offered me her open hand—
for this the first tetrapods evolved
in shallow and swampy freshwater,
for this the ichthyostega formed
arms and finger bones,
and for this, though it took
thirty-million years
of primate and homo sapien change,
for this we learned how to smile.

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Small Things

Small things aren’t just important,

says my father. They’re everything.

And I think of how,

night after night, he’d lie

on his back on the floor

and bench press me

as I stood with one foot

in each of his hands.

Years later, every morning

he’d lift me with a phone call—

This is the Broadmoor. This is your

morning wake up call.

He’d say it in his snootiest,

haughtiest British butler voice.

And years later,

when we hold hands

he rubs his thumb across my thumb,

a small, familiar gesture of love.

Now, wishing I could hold

his hand while we sit

in different rooms together

a thousand miles away,

I can almost feel

the pad of his thumb

move across my knuckles

the way wind moves over water

and creates the weather.

It lifts me.

It’s everything.

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Like Tonight

After wrapping the present,

mom would pull ribbon from a roll

and wrap it around the gift.

She’d tie a knot at the top,

then ask for my finger

to hold the ribbon in place

while she fashioned the double knot.

Eventually I learned what Mom knew—

it’s not hard to tie a ribbon alone.

Still, the loan of a finger is lovely.

Lovelier still, partnership.

This is what you do for me.

Though you’re far away,

sometimes when I find myself trying

to, oh, wrap things up,

I feel, perhaps, an invisible hand

reaching in to help where I most need it.

How much easier the work is then,

such a gift, to meet the present together.

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Because

for my mother

Because you are the morning song,

I sing dawn into the sleepy room.

Because you are a prayer,

I have psalms for hands, vespers for feet,

and there is holiness in the spatula,

devotion in the chair,

faith in sirens, in old vases.

If there are cranberries in my thoughts,

it is because you are the sugar

that taught them not to be afraid

of their own sharpness.

And the white and red petunias

that flutter inside my hope

are there because you planted them

decades ago.

I didn’t know all these years

that I was being made—

but because you are the abacus

I am the calculus of possibility.

Because you are the basket

I’ve learned to weave.

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I had imagined we’d see dozens of meteors

   streaming across the sky, streaking,

      flaming, impossibly bright.

         Instead, I lay on the driveway

between my son and daughter

   and we stared into the night,

      laughing and singing and listening

         to the sound of the earth turning,

the pavement hard beneath us—

   and above us, the whole

      starry firmament unfolding.

         Not one shooting star did we see, no, but oh,

how the milky way swirled all around us,

   our eyes wide open, my heart soaring, swarming,

      a small piece of matter burning up,

         glowing, impossibly bright,

never quite touching the earth.

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Already he’s lived a dozen years longer

than any other man in his bloodline.

One died of malaria. The rest of heart attacks.

Not one of them knew how to show love.

Sometimes a river changes its course—

perhaps slowly, eroding over centuries.

Perhaps all at once in a mighty flush,

as after a flood or an ice-floe.

I want to ask him how change happened in him—

how the impulse toward anger

rechanneled into tenderness,

into patience, into a willingness to be vulnerable.

I want to believe the same might happen for the world—

that by tending our hearts more carefully,

we might jump the banks of what seemed possible.

We are all of us here to be changed.

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At seven, I sat on a towel in front of the freezer

with the blow dryer, a sponge and a bucket

to earn money for a new plastic recorder.

Oh, how I wanted that reward.

So for hours, I switched the blow dryer

from one hand to the other, inwardly fussy,

wishing mom would just buy it for me.

How enormous the task seemed then.

When that brown recorder

finally came in a beige vinyl pouch,

I played “Hot Cross Buns” like I meant it.

I blew “Ode to Joy” in bright torture through the house,

and mangled “Mary Had a Little Lamb,”

but oh was I happy.

 

Now, scrubbing my parent’s refrigerator

I see how the tables have turned,

how the work becomes its own reward.

Decades of my parent’s love and sacrifice

bring me to this moment, when,

kneeling in front of the fridge,

sponge in hand, bucket beside me,

I feel like the luckiest woman alive,

Mom going through the cupboards beside me,

humming “Love is Blue,” perhaps a little out tune,

but oh, she is happy, so happy.

 

 

 

 

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