Posts Tagged ‘daughter’


While we stand at the stove
making potstickers
my daughter leans into me
and drops her head on my shoulder
and those twelve seconds of stasis
become the center of rotation
on which the whole day spins
and F equals mv squared over r
is just another equation for love.
I have ridden enough roller coasters
through the loops so to speak
that I trust how this works,
trust that in this wildly spinning world
there’s a force that pulls us
to the center, that won’t let us
be pushed off the path.
I trust it so much in this moment
I don’t even try to hold on.

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We sit on the carpet in the entry,
and Vivian balances her ring
on the head of the cat and
for a long time we stay like this,
speaking of school and friends
The phone doesn’t ring.
The texts don’t chime.
The afternoon light
seems to hold each thing in its place
like photo corners in a scrapbook
and minutes stretch into forever.
There is a wholeness to the moment
so perfect I almost try to escape it.
Instead I stay and fall deeper
into the pages of this simple story.
A girl. A mother. A cat. An afternoon.
The certainty there’s nowhere else to be.

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One Maleficent

            for my daughter
cheering the villain
in black pointe shoes—
her evil so magnificent

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Once Upon a Night

In the living room after dinner, my daughter
plays Tchaikovsky on Alexa
and dances every character in Sleeping Beauty
Aurora, the prince, the evil fairy,
the lilac fairy, the bluebird, the jewels—
she leaps and lifts, she jumps
and twirls and raises her arms
with a delicate twist of each wrist.
She is more wing than limb,
more song than blood,
more frolic than bone.
To watch her is holy business
 as she learns to make each step beautiful.

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After I’ve spent a whole day being stone,
my daughter plays our song on the stereo
and my body is whirlwind, a column of air
spinning round and round, gaining momentum,
and what once was sandstone in me is now dervish,
is dust devil, is momentary phenomenon,
and I barely recall what it’s like to be dense
as I sing and my arms rise and twirl
and I swirl through the room around my girl
thrilling in being this woman on this night,
this spinning delight, this whirling release,
short lived, perhaps, but oh for this twinkling,
I’m windborne, I’m dancing across the horizon
and the wind says, remember, remember this.

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The Growing

Vivian, the garden is ready now for winter.
Today was the day to pull everything out—
the remaining carrots, a few beets, the dried stalks
of sunflowers with their seed heads already emptied
into the soil. Next year there will be many volunteers.

I was surprised how many plants still had life.
The calendula, for instance, had dozens of new green leaves
flourishing around their bases, despite the frost and snow.
The snapdragons, too, had several inches of new growth,
though winter is near, though their flowers are dead.

What an astonishment, how life insists on itself.
Today I read an essay that said, The purpose of life is life.
Something thrilled in me when I read it,
though how to reconcile these words with the choice
your brother made to give up this life?

There are moments when I watch you find pleasure
in some simple act—stapling fabric to a box to make a costume.
Drawing on your hand. Snuggling the cat.
Life seems to burgeon around all the places inside you
that died when your brother died.

It’s a choice you make, I know.
The garden will be full of surprises next year.
I marvel at what grows.

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I am grateful to have a poem in Silver Birch Press’s ONE GOOD MEMORY series. When my friend Phyllis first told me about the series, I immediately thought of this memory of my father … place can be so powerful. Thanks to Silver Birch Press for publishing “Walking 5th Avenue”:

Walking 5th Avenue
by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

I am again fifteen
with my father,
my first trip to New York,
and he is not yet
in life-changing pain,
and we stare
in store windows,
eat street pretzels
and look for sales racks.
I don’t know yet
how he will hurt
too much to walk,
how even standing
will become impossible.
No, in this memory
we are walking
and laughing
as if we will forever,
as if there won’t
be a morning
when I wake in New York
almost four decades later
and reach to call him
and thank him
for that long-ago trip,
only to remember
he can no longer
answer the phone.
All day, I hear his laughter
as I walk. All day,
I feel his hand
reaching for mine.

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            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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