Posts Tagged ‘growing up’

Playing Family

for Grace

I’m too grown up now to play family,

says the six-year-old girl. But I hear

in her voice that part of her

still loves the game.

I long to tell her that now,

at fifty, playing family is still

one of my favorites.

I’m less wild about the version

where I’m the mom telling the kid

no, they can’t get the toy they want.

But I like the game when I sit on the couch

and say to my son or daughter,

Hey, come snuggle in, and they do.

I like it when we stand around the kitchen counter

laughing at whatever we’re laughing at.

I like when we’re driving in the car

and I say, Hey, sweetie, how was your day?

Sometimes, I play dress up in my own clothes

and wear what a mother would wear.

I even make breakfasts and lunches

and hide the M&Ms.

And I laugh to hear my own voice say

what a mother might say:

Clean up your room, please.

Time for bed now. Now.

You have got to be kidding me.

I love you. Oh my, how you’ve grown.

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The boy who has been gone for a week

approaches his mother at the curb


outside the school. Did you have fun?

she asks, and he gives her a lopsided


smile that doesn’t even pretend to be cool.

His cheeks are sunburned and his hair


is sun drenched and his shoes are mismatched

and dusty. He is happy. Oh yes, mom, he says,


and he falls in her arms and she holds up

his tired weight. It is August and the leaves


have already begun to yellow on the hill.

He tells her of herons, how they flew at sunset,


their wings backlit and shining. Then he reaches

in his backpack to pull out a rock, a gray flint


in the shape of a heart. He slips it in her hand

and doesn’t move to leave her. They stand


on the curb long after all the other campers

have left with their families. All around them,


the scent of rain about to come, the sound

of men with their hammers building


something new.






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at seven

she likes to sashay

for the mirror—

already her eyes see

her self as if they belong

to someone else

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Dust it was, today
the road where once
we smudged each other with mud.
How little then we knew
of how messy things can be.

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