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Posts Tagged ‘mother’

Not Expecting

Tonight, I placed my hands on my belly
and recalled the first time I felt the flutter
of your body as it grew inside mine.
Oh, the thrill of that movement,
sweet proof of your being.
To be touched from the inside,
touched by life itself as it flourished
into trillions of cells. Oh,
to know life like that.
Even now, I can feel it,
the ghost of a kick,
can recall it as easily
as I recall sunshine on the skin.
After your death, is it strange
it feels like I carry you inside me again,
only this time I am the one
who is growing,
I am the one being formed.

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Hymn




The shocking tender curl of him,
   wild river, raging, rush of him,
     the eddied, lazy swirl of Sunday
   morning sleepy smile of him,
the flood-stage leaping wave of him,
   high overflowing shores of him,
     torrential reckless course of him,
       now empty, unfilled banks of—
     dry barren rocky bed of—
   the utter lack of here of—
the pray-for-rain parched air of him,
   dark growing rain cloud storm of him,
     the sometimes-I-hear-rapids hum,
       deep currents in my lungs of him
         how is it I still breathe him in—
       the river is inside me hymn.

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Another part of me turns left,
and it is fifteen years ago
and I am driving to my parents’ new home
and my son and I will spend the night with them
because they live there and we can.
By the time I turn onto the highway toward home
it is fifteen years ago
and my father is sitting in his favorite chair
and my son curls into his lap
and dad tells him his ears are his mouth
and they laugh
and my mother and I make tea and chat.
And I am almost to the stoplight in Ridgway
when it is fifteen years ago,
and we go outside and make a fire in the pit
and sit in a half circle and sing camp songs
and snuggle because we are there.
And when I get home, an hour later,
it is fifteen years ago
and I am so full of their presence
and roasted marshmallows and
joy and loss that I lift my son
into his crib and kiss my father
on the cheek that is now ashes
and hug my mother now far away
then walk into the house
where my son no longer lives
and I have never been
so here.

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Centripetal




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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The Morning After

Though I knew it was a dream,
I thrilled to see you and your sister
tap dancing together,
performing in a bowling alley of all places,
each of you standing in front of your own lane,
both of you smiling, your arms scissoring in unison,
your bodies tilted forward, your legs kicking back,
the bright tap, tappity, tappity, tap of metal on wood,
your movements perfectly synchronized.
Then off you both danced down the lanes,
flapping and turning and leaping and shuffling,
two glorious blurs as you traveled toward the pins,
long legs flying, arms extended, your faces lit up,
no music but the rhythm in your feet.
I watched you both, breathless, thinking, I love this dream.
I love it even more this morning after,
still lying in bed, eyes still closed,
heart full of wonder, cells pulsing with love.
I keep unwrapping the dream like the gift it is.
There are some who would say I’m unlucky.
I know I am wildly blessed to have known you so closely,
blessed to love you and your sister,
blessed to have been changed by you both,
blessed to know your agony and your beauty,
blessed to know by heart the sound your feet make
as they dance across this world.  

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Because you are gone,
I will never again stand
in your doorway and listen
to the sound of your breath
as you sleep.
I can remember the way
it used to calm me—
the slow, even rhythm
that proved you were alive.
I used to laugh at myself.
As if you wouldn’t be alive.
How farfetched it felt,
the idea of your death.
Now, I hear the absence
of your breath everywhere—
everywhere is a doorway
where I find you are not.
And so I listen.

Sometimes it seems as if a silence
is breathing me,
and somehow, you live in that silence.
I don’t know how it works.
I only know that since you are gone,
sometimes listening feels like communion.
Sometimes when I am very quiet,
when there is no sound at all,
I hear you say nothing.
It’s everything.

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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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Sometimes I toss the postcards into recycling
as easily as I would a realtor’s flier.
Sometimes I hold them a long time,
standing in the post office lobby
beside the giant green plastic bin,
staring at his typewritten name—
a name chosen with so much love—
and those glossy squares of paper link me back to a time
when he was here, eager in school,
in love with his brain and what it could do,
dreaming of majors and scholarships.

A woman weeping over junk mail—
that thought is enough to make me laugh
through the tears. The only thing
that makes me more sad
than receiving these letters with his name
is knowing soon they won’t arrive anymore.
There will be nothing in the mailbox with his name.

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Memory of sitting by the river,
you taking my picture,
the leaves around us
already changing—
you were happy that day,
camera in hand,
no hint of sorrow,
no augury of grief.
Oh, that beautiful day.
I fold it in half,
run my finger down the crease,
unfold it, rotate it ninety degrees
and fold it in half again.
In six more steps,
I’ve folded it neatly into a boat.
Someday, perhaps,
I will float it down the river.
Today, I tuck it
into my mind’s back pocket.
When I need to, I touch it,
run my fingers along the folds.
It carries me along
the current.

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