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Posts Tagged ‘daughter’



            with a nod to Basho
 
 
my teenage girl
slips her hand into mine—
from the hand, I learn about hands

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The Sublime




In the middle of the night
in a tiny well-lit kitchen
in the middle of a city
known for violence,
my father spent hours
combing my hair
looking for nits,
meticulously pulling through
the toxic shampoo.
The hours passed
with tenderness.
I was grateful then,
but could not know
how sweetly I would come to recall
his patient hands, his quiet devotion,
his exhaustion, my exhaustion,
could not know how
years later I would treasure
those dark hours
when the sirens
blared through the window glass
and hour after hour
came to pass.

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September Night




The mountain air forgets to be cold,
and my daughter and I walk in the dark
beside the river. I almost can’t see,
yet thanks to starlight,
we step over roots, over rocks.
There are moments,
even whole chapters of our lives,
when we understand how the smallest
bit of light makes a difference.  
Tonight, we are laughing,
singing as we go.
Trust, too, is a kind of light.
In this dark moment, it is all I see.

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Untamed



We measure the afternoon in wild raspberries,
pulling to our mouths the abundant ripe fruits
like the feral beings we are.

Fingers stained red and lips stained red
and the moments stained red as love.
If it is not smart to speak of love,

then let me not be smart.
Let me speak of love that flourishes
like wild raspberries in a rainy summer.

Let me live into love as undomesticated
as these brambles that line the creeks.
Let me remember today

by the sweet and tart taste of wild berries,
how softly they fell into our palms.
Let me be eager for love

as the look on my daughter’s face
when she dragged me by the hand
back to the raspberry patch saying more, more.

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for my daughter, a year later


She has learned to bloom
like the tuberose,
opening in the light
but becoming more potent
in the dark.
Sweet scent of honey.
Tenacious scent of jasmine.
The hard won scent
of hope.
Scent of the one
who has learned to thrive
when thriving
doesn’t feel possible.
Scent of resilience.
Scent of I can.
Scent of the one
who finds grace
on the inside.
Scent of elusive beauty.
Scent of the one
who meets the soils
made of sorrow,
who brings to the world
a gift as astonishing
as a night-blooming flower,
a gift as honest
as the moon.

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Though she has been shaped
by pain, she thrives.
She is like a tree, now,
that remembers its wounds
and grows differently
because of its injuries,
some of them deep,
yet is no less vigorous
as it grows new healthy wood,
as it reaches for sun,
as it grounds into the soil,
as it offers its fruit
to the world.

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I couldn’t say why that particular hymn
made me cry—not that I am averse
to weeping—but when love broke me open
with hot, relentless tears,
my daughter beside me reached
to hold my hand and leaned into me
and I bloomed into wild gratefulness.
Grief comes with its arms full of blessings.
I am not grateful for the loss,
but there is so much beauty in how the world
rises up to hold us—cradles us with kindness,
cradles us with song. There is so much good
in how grief asks us to be tender with each other—
teaches us to reach, to offer comfort,
to receive comfort, to connect.
In a world where we crave beauty,
we learn we are beauty,
our every word, our every touch
a building block that makes the world.

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We gather at my brother’s home
and his wife has ordered 57 duck calls.
They were not in time for the party,
but when we arrive to find them
on the front stoop, immediately
we open the box and almost a dozen adults
begin blowing on the duck calls—
not just once or twice,
but for twenty minutes
we make rising calls, falling calls,
sharp quick staccato calls,
calls to the beat of Bridge Over the River Kwai.
It is loud and raucous and somewhere
in heaven, my father I am sure
was blowing, too, and giggling
until tears ran down his cheeks
and he rubbed his wet eyes with his fists.
There were tears today, sobs, even,
but my god tonight how we laughed
as we made the sound my father loved—
the sound to call in the birds.
How it called in his memory, startling
and alive—how I felt him wing in—
not sure if the tears on my cheeks
were his or mine.

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I don’t sing Happy Birthday tonight
when I light the candle,
but I say his name and celebrate
the life of the man born this day
seventy-eight years ago in Joliet, Illinois,
the man who brought ingenuity,
courage and silliness to the world,
the man who told my mother everyday
she was beautiful, the man who
believed in hiring people more talented than he,
the man who flew home to be at my concerts,
the man who drove me to piano lessons,
the man who wept when I moved away.
My own life is a celebration of his life—
he lives inside every word, every action,
every patience, every plan.
Every day since his death, I light a candle.
Every day, I celebrate his life.
Every day, my father still shines.

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The smallest change in perspective can transform a life.
            —Oprah Winfrey
 
 
They return arm in arm,
linked by elbows and laughter,
linked by memories of women weaving
 
and warm fresh tortillas and the girl
who begged them to bring her home with them.
They are the same girls who left,
 
only more spacious, filled with vast lake
and tropical rain and the generosity
of the people who live with little.
 
They are more citizens of the world, now,
having sat on the earth and around tables
with children and elders so different, so the same.
 
Having left in service, they return the richer—
oh sweet paradox,
how in giving of themselves they are beautifully changed.
 
 

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