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Posts Tagged ‘daughter’

 

after Saint Francis and the Sow by Galway Kinnell

 

 

And when my daughter

runs to greet me, charges

me with joy, I am like

the great thick sow Saint Francis blessed

with his touch. For though

I look in the mirror

and see only what I wish to change,

my daughter sees differently

and bulldozes me with love,

a ferocious blessing,

reteaching me in a vigorous rush

that there is something

beautiful here, though

she wouldn’t name it as such—

and a small remembering

takes root in me and

vines throughout my thoughts,

and I flower there in blue surprise,

my own soil, again, enough.

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On Point

 

 

 

Sewing the ribbons

onto point shoes for the first time

I again feel clumsy

 

in this art of parenting.

Angle the ribbons,

or stitch them on straight?

 

How far from the back seam

does the elastic go?

How snug the fit?

 

How secure the stitch?

It was not so long ago

I didn’t know how warm

 

the bath. How tight

the swaddle. How

to soothe when the babe

 

was unable to say

what was wrong.

So little has changed,

 

me in the late hours

puzzling over lack

of instructions,

 

wanting so badly

to do it right, wishing

for some elusive grace,

 

astonished by how enormous

the love, the ribbon

running through my fingers.

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Mom, just relax. Let me take you to a place where there are no bunions, no bruises, no violence, no Donald Trumps, no unhappy thoughts.

            —Vivian Trommer, 10

 

 

Start with the scent of chanterelle cream sauce

still lingering from dinner. Throw in a few stars—

you can’t see them, but you know they are there.

 

Add a tickle. A giggle. A kitten-ish squeal.

Rub tenderly. Then hard. Then forget for a while

to rub. Add a hum, and the dark that can’t enter

 

the room. Add moon. And cocoon. An impending

soon. And the sound of the river never ending.

An inkling of joy. A hunch of perfect. A hint

 

of this can’t last. Choose that. Distill to precisely

this moment. Any sorrow or pain

that might wish to rise, it is only a background

 

flavor that shows up how sweet this magic,

how sometimes the best recipe is the one

that uses exactly what we have on hand.

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She is across the mesa,

learning to saddle up, mount up

and post the trot.

It’s what we don’t know

that frightens us.

For a time, there is

the death grip. For a time,

there’s forgetting to breathe.

But soon there’s the thrill

of learning to move

with another, the joy

of breathing in rhythm

with the stride.

 

I follow the skyline

to where she is,

wonder what planet

I’m using to triangulate

my wishes good night.

I, too, am learning

to hold on more loosely,

to breathe into these

new rhythms, chin up,

eyes on where we’re going,

a smile insisting on itself.

 

 

 

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Sitting on the couch

watching a Disney musical

and singing along

with my daughter,

we cackle like the evil queen

and purr with the catty girls,

practicing in cruel registers

we seldom use,

and I think how it is

we are drawn to imitate

that which repulses us,

how strange the words taste

in my mouth, like candy

from a foreign land,

and how our eyes flicker

with playful light

as we scowl and curse

and deride. And my daughter

snuggles in closer to me,

and I kiss her head,

and we watch till the end,

though we’ve seen it

at least five times before

and know exactly what will happen.

There is comfort, perhaps,

in reminding ourselves

how the good prevails.

We are like children who have been

lost in a dark wood while playing games,

then see a wall of sunlight

in the distance

and make a run for it.

 

 

 

 

 

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Mom, she says, I don’t know what it was about that book,

but the pages were falling out and it smelled old

and I think it cast a spell on me.

And I recall the first time I read Emily,

an old cloth book with the text debossed,

how I ran my fingers over the words

and felt them as I read them:

“As imperceptibly as Grief

The Summer lapsed away—”

Mom, she says, I didn’t even understand

a single word I read, but I couldn’t stop reading.

And now, I think that book is haunting me.

We are making her bed just before she sleeps,

and I tug on the covers to straighten them.

Yes, I say, her words are like spells.

I memorized that poem, though I was

too young to know of “courteous

and harrowing grace.” I knew only

that when I said the words, they gave

me such an openness, a wideness, a delight,

as if morning found its way into my chest,

and now, thirty years later, the early light

still touches me, still thralls.

The bed remade, she slips beneath

and I lay at her feet and for a time we read.

I want to talk more about Emily,

but the spell is her own and I don’t

want to trespass her magic,

the wonder she feels.

Perhaps someday she, too,

will read these lines,

“Our Summer made her light escape

into the beautiful.”

and know herself more beautiful

for having let them touch her.

 

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for Shawnee

 

 

This time the goodbye is in the kitchen,

me running off to the next thing,

you at the counter with morning tea

before you drive away.

I give you a hug from behind

and a kiss on your cheek and thank you

for coming to visit.

 

I want to tell you I love you,

but the words have never

tumbled out easily, not because

they aren’t true, but because

I don’t want to frighten you.

Strange to feel I must hold you at a distance

in order to keep you close,

like a mother bird

who monitors her nestling

from a neighboring tree.

 

I never was one of the mothers

who worry about fatal things:

car crashes, avalanche, infectious disease.

I worry more about the most

terrible thing that could happen,

that you could be alive and not know how

much I love you, fiercely, unfoldingly,

worry my longing

to keep you at ease could

make you feel pushed away.

 

Driving from the house,

it is not the sun in my eyes

that makes them leak,

it’s this knowing that I

have made for you a nest

in my heart where I hold you,

but perhaps what you needed all these years

was for me to hold your real hand,

to wrap my real arms around

where your wings would be.

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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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