Posts Tagged ‘motherhood’

I meet her at the Peace Garden gathering

where she’s singing and dancing for peace.

It’s September 11, and her belly is round

and moon-ish. She has no wrinkles yet,

no flashes of gray in her hair.

She is so sincere as she recites poems,

as if with right words and right songs

and right moves she could help

create a peaceful world that her baby will enter.

She’s a month away from her due date

and I don’t tell her those cramps she’s feeling

are contractions. I don’t tell her

he’ll cry for a year. I don’t tell her

about how they’ll laugh too loud together

how they’ll both thrive in the small night hours,

how sixteen years later she’ll marvel

at how love rules her life

in the fiercest and most tender ways,

how the boy will have grown to six foot four,

how he will teach her about fast cars and graphic cards

and forgiveness and humility and apps.

Sixteen years later, she will be less herself

and more something larger, more

driven by love than ever, though it

is nothing she could have imagined.

No, I just say, Nice to meet you. You look familiar,

like a woman I used to know well.

And she smiles in a dreamy far off way.

She thinks she knows what will happen.

Yes, I remember that well.

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 (with thanks to Rebecca Mullen)


The way the tangerine never thinks

to thank its peel, the way the button

doesn’t appreciate the thread

that tethers it, the way the water

doesn’t honor the shore

for encompassing it, this is the way I want

you to take me for granted. As if

I will always be here to hold you. As if

you are so safe you forget

that things change. As if you are so sure

of my love that it’s as assumed

as air, as unremarkable as birdsong

in summer, as given as the gravity

that keeps you from floating away,

as constant as the sound of the river

that you need to leave before

you remember to hear it again.

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“We all make mistakes,” I say.
I know she hears me.
I look out the window.

From under the quilt,
she says nothing.
Only her eye is visible

through a fold. I catch it,
then look at the leafless cottonwood.
Somewhere, a dog

is barking. Somewhere,
the scent of almond.
“And then,” I say, “we have

a chance to learn.”
The snow in the yard
flashes against the low sun.

A robin finds a spot
where spring is stealing in,
the grass already greening

between the porch and the snow.
“And sometimes,” I say,
“our mistakes hurt other people.”

In the other room, the sound
of a timer. The sound of
a sponge running over

the nap of the couch.
“And if we hurt someone,” I say,
“it can be important to tell them

we are sorry. But only,” I say,
“when we really are sorry.”
I look out the window,

wanting to notice something
instead of my own quiet hands.
My hands smooth the quilt

where her small hip rises.
I say, “We don’t always know
why we do what we do.”

The timer again. Scent
of almond. Scent of butter.
I say, “Mommy makes

mistakes, too.” I watch
the words as they leave
my mouth and land on the walls,

the quilt, the sill.
A dog barks. Again.
Sharp bleat of the timer.

I close my eyes. Neither
of us moves. Inside me
a door opens. I feel what’s left

of my anger leave with a limp.
“Do you want to ask me anything?”
I say. Slowly, she pulls the cover

away. Her face is soft, guileless
as fruit on a tree. She says
nothing, but perhaps I hear

in her the sound of a door opening.

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Gravity Tanka

only after
my own arms
did I feel how I am
so gently being held

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my daughter
and I, two small points
beneath a sky
of infinite small
bright points

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