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Posts Tagged ‘daughter’

 

 

 

Hundreds of smooth red stones—

we gathered them that summer

and spent days carefully laying them out

into a wide and winding red path.

It had no real starting point, no destination.

We tucked white daisies between the rocks.

We said it was for the fairies.

I wouldn’t have said it then, in fact,

I hesitate today to say we didn’t believe in them.

They gave us so much purpose.

Even now, I’m following that path.

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It surprises me she is fragile,

this woman who labored for eighteen hours

 

to birth me, this woman who cared for me

every time I was sick, who coached

 

my soccer team, who led my Girl Scout troupe.

This woman who went hunting and fishing

 

and still often comes home with the biggest

catch. This woman who walked ten miles

 

to raise money for hunger. This woman

who prays for everyone, everyone.

 

And so tonight when I walk her

to her room and she needs to stop

 

a moment to catch her breath,

I marvel at how human she is,

 

this woman who has been more

than human to me my whole life—

 

a super hero, a champion, a star.

And somehow, knowing this, and

 

understanding that it’s been true all along,

I fall even more deeply in love with her

 

as she leans back on the bed, lets out

a long sigh, closes her eyes, and smiles.

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By Example

 

 

 

He taught me you can never have too much love

or too much ice cream in the freezer. That it matters

how you shake someone’s hand. He taught me

 

to pile wet seaweed on a bare patch of dirt

so the earthworms will come to the surface.

He taught me how to cast, to set the hook, to filet.

 

He taught me to cheer for myself. Once,

he taught me to say no, and to mean it,

and we shouted it over and over into the phone,

 

our voices a joyful chorus of refusal. He taught me

that despite unceasing pain, you can still

be grateful to be alive. That it is possible

 

to love someone very different from you.

That you can go to different schools together.

He taught me to take life seriously, and then

 

to speak in made up languages and giggle till you cry.

He taught me you can’t save everyone, but

you can save a few. And it’s important that you do.

 

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First, you must weigh everything.

Precisely. The butter. The water.

The sugar, the salt. You must

catch the mixture just as it boils,

then add the flour, sifted and weighed.

You must set the timer to dry the dough,

must add the eggs slowly, must not

let it be too dry, too wet.

There’s more, my friends. The angle

of the pastry sleeve, must be 45 degrees.

You need to use the French star tip.

And then, you must not open the oven

lest the steam escapes and the eclairs

don’t crust. So many musts. So many dos.

And still they don’t always turn out.

 

It is not at all the way I love you. Though

sometimes I’ve tried to find the recipe.

Though sometimes I’ve wished it

were as easy as measuring well and using

a timer. I have wanted to do it right.

I have studiously wanted to make yours the best life.

 

But the only way to be a good lover

is to love. It has nothing to do

with following directions. Has

everything to do with the doing.

Like making choux pastry dough

together. Taking turns at the stove.

Reading the directions out loud to each other,

four times. And then watching the dough,

astonished as it goes from slimy to smooth

to something sturdy that shines.

 

 

 

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It wasn’t until I had passed through security

and found my way into Concourse B

that I found myself sinking into a chair

across from a giant Vienna Beef poster

and began to weep. And once they began,

the tears wouldn’t stop. Nor did I try

to stop them. I had wondered in the ICU

where they were. Had wondered

again at my parents’ home. It was strange

to be so level—not cold, really, and not numb,

but oddly steeled. It was a relief, really,

to sob into my hands. To let grief take over.

To be a maidservant to fragility.

What a gift to be sideswiped with the truth

of our vulnerability. What a blessing

to be baptized in my own helplessness.

Over the loudspeaker, they announced

that a plane was delayed. As if any of us

really know when we’ll depart, when we’ll arrive.

When the tears dried, I stood. Walked

to my gate recalibrated. Called my parents

again because I could. Because I could.

In the window, I smiled at my watery reflection,

how it almost wasn’t there at all.

 

 

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Because I cannot fix her heart,

I plant flowers in the two empty pots

on my mother’s high rise patio.

She’s always loved flowers around the house—

peonies and petunias in Wisconsin,

succulents and larkspur in Colorado.

She taught me when I was a girl

how to deadhead the plants

to produce more blooms,

how to make the snapdragon

open its reptilian mouth, how

to tell the story of Cinderella

by carefully dissecting the bleeding heart,

how to make touch me nots spit their seeds,

and how a few flowers around the home

bring immeasurable joy. And so

I pick out white and blue lobelia and

a soft gray vine and a hot pink begonia

and other flowers and vines I can’t name

and we sit on her patio together

in the late afternoon sun

and arrange the potted plants.

There is something about planting flowers

together that changes the way

you see the flowers—the same way

a soup tastes better when made

by someone who loves you—

and I thrill to think of her

looking out the window and seeing

the bright red geraniums surrounded

by purples and blues and greens

and thinking to herself, wow,

that girl really loves me, and

surely, surely, though it won’t

fix her heart, surely it will do some good,

those draping pink petunias

so familiar, so new.

 

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And as my mother steeped toward slumber,

her thin body wired to monitors,

there, surrounded by incessant beeping

and the red and green mountains and valleys

of pulse and pressure and the slow drip

of IV tubes finding her veins, yes,

there as her speech became mumbly and her

eye lids heavied, my father leaned over

the rails of the hospital bed to smooth

her gray hair and kiss her lips and whisper

I love you. And she rallied a smile and

whispered it back. And there, in the sterile room,

with all its instruments of cardiac measurement,

there was nothing, nothing that could chart

how open my heart, how—unable to hold

all the love I felt for them both—it broke

in the most beautiful way. How I prayed

it would stay that open, that broken, that whole.

 

**

Dear friends, thank you for all your good wishes. After having a heart surgery go wrong a few days ago, my mother was released today from the ICU and is now resting at home, and though she is not out of the woods yet, she is not in imminent danger. It’s been very scary and I thank you for all your thoughtful messages and prayers and thoughts. Rosemerry

 

 

*

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I should have raised dogs.

That’s what my father always said

when I did something stupid.

Like when my friend and I were twelve

and we snuck into Raiders of the Lost Ark

with two seventeen-year old boys.

And there was dad, waiting

outside the theater looking like

exactly what he was—a rabid dad

hellbent on scaring the shit out of any boy

who might have unvirtuous thoughts

about his girl. He never said

what kind of dogs—poodles or labs

or mutts. I can just see him

walking the corridor of his kennel,

all the dogs barking. But dogs weren’t

his calling—the crates, the training,

special diets, vets. No,

he was the master of loving me

through my crazy mistakes

and my hormonal angst and my sudden refusal

to eat meat. I still smile thinking of

the way he would sit on the couch

and hold his arm open for me

to come sit beside him then snuggle.

The way he bought me a book

to decode my dreams. The way he took me

to piano lessons every Saturday

morning, then took me out for brunch

so we could talk. The way he still listens

when I’ve done something stupid

and then tells me he loves me.

Never once, despite all his lamentations,

did I think he would exchange me

for a chihuahua or beagle. No, there

was something almost sweet in his wish,

a hint of surrender in it, the sound

of his heart opening just a little bit wider

to let in the world, unleashed as it is.

 

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cross-state road trip—

traveling with my daughter

three miles per song

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Shower

 

 

Beside the dirt road

we find a whole bouquet’s worth

of purple penstemon,

 

pink wild roses, orange

globe mallow, and countless

yellow weeds. My daughter

 

picks them, a bride to joy,

and though there is thunder

it doesn’t rain, except for petals,

 

yellow sweet clover, that

she sprinkles along the dirt

to leave a trail behind us,

 

just in case we get lost, Mom.

she says. Sometimes love

seems to rise right out of the dirt

and damned if somehow

 

on that one-way road

I didn’t get wholly, beautifully,

heart breakingly lost.

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