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Posts Tagged ‘daughter’

 

 

 

My daughter walks up the drive to meet me.

Mom, she says, I have a pet.

She is dragging an old pump

attached to a long black electrical cord.

Meet Pumpy, she says.

Hello Pumpy, I say. She pulls

the red and black cylinder into her arms.

I am trying to prove to you

that I am ready to be a dog owner, Mom.

I am going to take Pumpy for walks

every night and every morning

and give him a bath in the river. Come.

She puts the pump back on the ground

and yanks it up the drive, calling,

Come boy. Good Pumpy.

When we get to the top of the drive,

she picks up Pumpy to cross the street.

You know, she says, the street

is a dangerous place.

And then we walk up the dirt hillside.

There, she finds an old deer bone

and helps Pumpy to bury it.

Mom, she says, what do you think?

I think my heart is breaking

with the purity of her desire.

I think the evening light

makes everything more beautiful.

I think it is hard to say no

to something our loves really want.

No, I say. We can’t get a dog.

But you will be a great dog owner someday.

She knew this would be the answer,

and says, Come, Pumpy,

there’s more to explore.

And though it’s getting dark,

we walk deeper into the woods.

 

 

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Come, she says, let me show you

my secret place in the woods,

and she grabs my hand

 

and walks me past the pond through

the forest and along a ditch

until we arrive in a small clearing

 

rung with birch and old spruce.

It’s secret, she says, but not

too far away. Will you help me

 

get it ready? We return with

loppers and a small hand saw

and clear away what is dead. The sun

 

discovers new ways to touch the ground.

When we leave, the clearing

comes with us. All day, I feel it,

 

the light as it finds its way in.

 

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Easter Eve

 

 

 

On the table, a letter to the Easter Bunny—

the girl has written it in blue pen

thanking him for the joy he brings.

 

Beside the letter, two baskets

filled with empty plastic eggs.

So much inside wants to be filled. Or so

 

we believe. Tomorrow morning,

the baskets will be for a moment empty,

the eggs, hidden, ridiculous with candy.

 

Oh the things we use to stave the void!

There is beauty in barrenness—

just outside the window, the world

 

is trying to prove it, the field no longer

steeped in snow, yet not yet verdant

and green. And still it’s lovely, a stark,

 

splendor. though perhaps we need

to recalibrate to see.

Every Easter, she writes, I wake up

 

soooooooooo excited to find the eggs.

I think of the field, how it takes

no belief for it to fill, for it to burgeon.

 

And still it is no less magic. I think

of the girl, her joy in giving the Easter Bunny

her most beautiful egg, how she’s learning

 

the art of emptying. I hope you like it, she writes.

I tell her, I think the Easter Bunny

will cry, tears leaving my eyes, not sure

 

if I feel more empty, more full.

 

 

 

 

 

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my mother began my mornings

by singing to me “it’s going to be

such a lovely day”—

over thirty years later

I still believe her

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Out the kitchen window, my daughter

scales the cottonwood tree, winds

her way up the inner branches.

 

Feeling my eyes, she turns to smile at me,

her gaze entered by light.

The tree is bare, the buds in gray hoods,

 

though soon there will be a riot of quivering green.

So much in us still waits to arrive,

though in moments such as this,

 

there are no other moments, only this one

fluttering wild in our breast, not even trying

to balance the emptiness, with our hearts so full.

 

 

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If you could come back, I say, as anyone else

in the world—say you just stepped out of time

for a moment and then came back in—would

you come back as yourself or as someone else?

 

We are driving in the dark, but I know from experience

that we have just crossed the Dallas Divide

and there are mountains just south of us, and

Leopard Creek to our left, already slightly swollen with spring.

 

Well, she says, after some consideration, could

I change parts of myself? And I say, No.

You get to come back exactly as yourself.

The car in the oncoming lane forgets to lower its brights.

 

Then I would come back as myself, she says,

and I feel a flood of fragrant joy in her answer,

a perfume that fills the car with the heady

scent of self-awareness. I think of the infinite

 

choices and events that conspired to make her

exactly this girl who in this exact moment

chooses to be exactly herself. Except, she says.

I wish I could be better organized.

 

All around us, the world unbraids itself,

melting and charged with mud and change.

All around us, a fine and untamable chaos.

Inside us, the exact person to meet it.

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my daughter and I

recite all our favorite lines—

snapdragons no less beautiful

for blooming in the same place

every year

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One for My Dad

 

 

 

so tender his tears

that thirty years later

I find them in my own eyes

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for Billy Miller, remembering events on January 4, 2012

 

 

When the man pulled my father

from the icy waters of Lake Michigan,

he did not know years later my step-daughter

would need someone to buy her a sweater

so she would feel nurtured, did not know

that my son would need someone

to make a mosaic with him so that he

could feel loved, did not know

that my daughter would need

someone to tell her that she

was beautiful. When the man

pulled my father out of the water—

my dad had been fishing alone—

that off-duty fireman couldn’t have known

that years later this very daughter

would sit beside her father and hold his hand

and weep at the simple gift

of being able to hold his hand.

The fireman was doing what he knew to do—

to rush to the person in need of help.

He didn’t think then of the other lives

blessed by the man. Did not think

of the other lives he blessed with his hands

when he chose to try, though the odds

of saving the man were low.

He knew only to reach.

Years later, my mother still sleeps

beside the man that was pulled

from the winter lake.

Give us hands that know to reach

for each other—stranger, neighbor,

friend. Give us hands that unthinkingly

choose to save the family

we’ve never met.

 

See the news story here.

 

 

 

 

 

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Four from Chicago

 

 

 

One When My Grandfather was Still Alive

 

 

in the subway tunnel

the arching notes of Danny Boy

on a violin—

I walk slower to meet the train

I arrive twelve years ago

 

One Courage

 

 

hearing the moan on the other side

or is it a low laugh—

still choosing to open the door

 

 

One Near Totality

 

 

eclipse behind the clouds

so much beauty we never see—

sunflower blooming in a distant field

 

 

 

 

One New Time Signature

 

my father a song

I used to think I knew—

this morning, I hear

the same song with new ears,

or is it that the tune has changed—

all day I hum it,

all day I feel lucky

to hear him humming back

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