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Posts Tagged ‘mom’

 

 

 

And so I pull the purple comb

through my son’s thick hair,

the same way I’ve seen

the stylists do at Great Clips.

Wet the hair. Comb it through.

Part it. Hold it between

two fingers. Cut vertically. Snip,

and his hair falls to the floor.

Comb it through. Snip. Snip.

 

We both know that I

have no clue what I’m doing.

So we laugh as the hair

piles up on the floor.

We chatter, the way

a stylist and customer would,

talking of school and his friends

and his unruly cowlicks. Snip.

 

I remember that time

I was trapped underwater

by the river’s hydraulics,

how I stared up at the light

shining through the surface

and thought, I don’t think

it’s my time yet to die.

And the river spit me out

and I swam hard as I could

through the rapid toward shore.

 

I don’t think it’s my time yet

to die. Nor my son’s. Though

all around us the news of dying—

the numbers increasing every day,

stories of beloveds who are gone.

 

We ask ourselves, how do we

go on? And meanwhile, we do.

We go on. And because my son’s hair

is too long for his taste,

I learn how to cut it by cutting it.

How much more will we learn

as this goes on? How to share?

How to grieve? How to let go? How to live?

 

And meanwhile, life spits us out

into sunlight, and we come up

spluttering, gasping, surprised

we’re alive, and we swim, what a gift

to find we’re still swimming.

 

 

 

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And because she is wise

in the ways the young are,

my daughter, frightened and weeping,

asked between sobs

for a happy story.

 

There are times when a story

is the best remedy—

not because it takes us away

from the truth but because

it leads us closer in.

 

I told her the story of her birth,

and we laughed until

it was my turn to cry as I realized

no matter how scary the world,

what a miracle, the birth of a child.

 

Then, as fear made a sneaky return,

we whispered a list of things we

were grateful for, falling asleep with these

words on our breaths: cats, books, rivers,

home, family, soft blankets, music.

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The rules are simple. One person chooses

an ornament on the tree. The others ask

yes/no questions until they guess it correctly.

It was my mother who taught me.

I taught my own children. It’s a ritual

as important as the tree itself. Is it red?

Is it round? Is it cloth? Handmade?

 

So many questions we never can answer.

So many questions elude yes or no. But here,

in the soft glow of Christmas tree lights,

we share moments when every question

leads us closer to a treasure, where

the moments are treasures themselves.

 

 

 

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My son and I lean together over the thin resistor,

the nine volt battery, the LEDs in blue and red.

 

We fuss with the copper tape as it twists and sticks

where we don’t want it to stick. But eventually,

 

there is light, a small blue light. He can’t stop looking

at the glow on the table. I can’t stop looking

 

at the glow in him. I remember so little

about how electricity works. Something

 

about electrons being pushed through the circuit.

Ours is simple, a series circuit, with only one way

 

for the electrons to go. But I know that no matter

how complex a circuit, the same laws of physics apply.

 

It’s like love. No matter how intricate the scenario,

the laws themselves are always the same.

 

There are two laws of love, I tell myself.

One: you can’t predict anything. And two,

 

it will change you. For good. I swear

as I stare at him now, I can feel the electrons

 

moving in my own body. Or are those tears,

twin currents following familiar paths.

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Despite the fact
I know what comes
next, despite the fact
I have turned
this page before,
despite the fact
that I tell myself
I will not cry, I will
not cry, despite
the past dragged
up into this moment
like a featherless bird,
despite the sunlight
stretching across
the morning floor,
despite the whisper
that says it’s creepy,
and despite the fact
that it’s not my name,
not my story, not
my song running
so soon out of notes,
I still cry every time I read
those words again,
as long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.

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All these years
I have coveted
her egg poacher,
yolks perfect every time,
the one we first used
in the small kitchen
with the black and white
tiles and then in the bigger
kitchen with oak floors
and over thirty years later
in a kitchen
only an hour away
from my kitchen,
but today when
she offered me
that Oster egg poacher
as we packed
her other things
into boxes going with her
a thousand miles away,
I knew all
I really wanted
was for her to be the woman
poaching the eggs
those yolks
spilling gold
in a kitchen close enough
we might eat
our breakfast
together.

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In the backseat,
Vivian says, Mom,
I want to know
the darkness,

and so rolls down
her window
and shouts,
Hello Night!

And then she
whispers something
to the air
that I can’t hear

though I strain
against the rush
of road noise
to decipher her words.

The conversation belongs
to her, though, and
to the night, and to
the window that

already she has learned
to open herself.

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