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Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

 

 

 

Now dried and brown

the cinquefoil where once

bees danced in gold flowers—

 

recalibrating the heart

to find in brittle clusters

another invitation to dance.

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It surprises me she is fragile,

this woman who labored for eighteen hours

 

to birth me, this woman who cared for me

every time I was sick, who coached

 

my soccer team, who led my Girl Scout troupe.

This woman who went hunting and fishing

 

and still often comes home with the biggest

catch. This woman who walked ten miles

 

to raise money for hunger. This woman

who prays for everyone, everyone.

 

And so tonight when I walk her

to her room and she needs to stop

 

a moment to catch her breath,

I marvel at how human she is,

 

this woman who has been more

than human to me my whole life—

 

a super hero, a champion, a star.

And somehow, knowing this, and

 

understanding that it’s been true all along,

I fall even more deeply in love with her

 

as she leans back on the bed, lets out

a long sigh, closes her eyes, and smiles.

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First, you must weigh everything.

Precisely. The butter. The water.

The sugar, the salt. You must

catch the mixture just as it boils,

then add the flour, sifted and weighed.

You must set the timer to dry the dough,

must add the eggs slowly, must not

let it be too dry, too wet.

There’s more, my friends. The angle

of the pastry sleeve, must be 45 degrees.

You need to use the French star tip.

And then, you must not open the oven

lest the steam escapes and the eclairs

don’t crust. So many musts. So many dos.

And still they don’t always turn out.

 

It is not at all the way I love you. Though

sometimes I’ve tried to find the recipe.

Though sometimes I’ve wished it

were as easy as measuring well and using

a timer. I have wanted to do it right.

I have studiously wanted to make yours the best life.

 

But the only way to be a good lover

is to love. It has nothing to do

with following directions. Has

everything to do with the doing.

Like making choux pastry dough

together. Taking turns at the stove.

Reading the directions out loud to each other,

four times. And then watching the dough,

astonished as it goes from slimy to smooth

to something sturdy that shines.

 

 

 

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It’s just a piece of toast.

Bread. Heat. Butter.

Last season’s apricot jam.

It’s just breakfast. Just

simple carbs and a little fat

so that their brains can

function better, bodies

can move without hunger.

It’s just a few bites

that disappear in moments.

No one looks at the meal tenderly.

No one thinks, oh, my mom

must really love me—

look at the way she spread the butter

so evenly to cover all the bread.

No one thinks, she knows

just how light, just how dark

I like my toast. No, they just eat it

and rush toward the door.

Some part of me is grateful

they take it so for granted,

believing love is as easy

as pushing down a toaster lever,

as simple as saying thanks.

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The stomach replaces its lining

every four days. Every four days.

Because it’s so highly corrosive,

every four days it remakes itself

and becomes completely new.

Love, this is what I want to do.

Because sometimes we are acid.

Because sometimes we are cruel.

I want to start over every four days.

Every four days, let us be new.

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That was the day

I asked everyone I met,

Have you had a teenager?
Do you have advice for me?

And the woman in line

in the store told me,

You survive. And the cashier

said almost the same.

Sometimes we search

for what we want to know

in the strangest places.

At the gas station,

I hesitated to ask

the gruff old man

scraping paint, but

I asked my question again.

He looked at me

and shook his head,

you love ’em.

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One with my Son

 

passing it between us

like laughter, like freedom, like joy

the red frisbee

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I should have raised dogs.

That’s what my father always said

when I did something stupid.

Like when my friend and I were twelve

and we snuck into Raiders of the Lost Ark

with two seventeen-year old boys.

And there was dad, waiting

outside the theater looking like

exactly what he was—a rabid dad

hellbent on scaring the shit out of any boy

who might have unvirtuous thoughts

about his girl. He never said

what kind of dogs—poodles or labs

or mutts. I can just see him

walking the corridor of his kennel,

all the dogs barking. But dogs weren’t

his calling—the crates, the training,

special diets, vets. No,

he was the master of loving me

through my crazy mistakes

and my hormonal angst and my sudden refusal

to eat meat. I still smile thinking of

the way he would sit on the couch

and hold his arm open for me

to come sit beside him then snuggle.

The way he bought me a book

to decode my dreams. The way he took me

to piano lessons every Saturday

morning, then took me out for brunch

so we could talk. The way he still listens

when I’ve done something stupid

and then tells me he loves me.

Never once, despite all his lamentations,

did I think he would exchange me

for a chihuahua or beagle. No, there

was something almost sweet in his wish,

a hint of surrender in it, the sound

of his heart opening just a little bit wider

to let in the world, unleashed as it is.

 

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Time Bend

 

 

 

Stepping into my children’s room

it is nine years ago and I almost trip over

the rocking chair that isn’t there,

can almost smell the calendula cream

I used for their bottoms, hear

the drone of the humidifier.

How different those quiet nights,

the amber glow of the night light,

the way their new bodies curled

so easily into the curve of my arm.

Not that I want to go back to those nights,

but how sweet they are now, how long

they were then. I want to tell that younger

version of myself that there will come

a day when she will wish she could

sit in the quiet and hold her children

through the night. But she wouldn’t believe me.

Too tired for belief. She just keeps

humming that lullaby, rocking back

and forth, her eyes closed as if to dream.

 

 

 

Dear friends, I’ll be camping the next few days, so no poems posted for a while … a bouquet when I return. xo

r

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I suppose by then I had guessed

that love was not only about happiness,

not only about ease and feeling good.

In fact, it turned out as the newborn boy

continued to cry for month after

inconsolable month, love looked

a lot like misery. It sounded like wailing

through all his waking hours.

It felt like exhaustion. Love looked

like losing a dream. And choosing

to cradle the infant anyway. And soothing

the wailing infant anyway. Love

had little to do with happiness.

 

And eventually the crying stopped. And

the boy learned to laugh. And to

hug. And to love. And happiness came.

And went. And came. And went. But love,

love stayed. Like a jay that comes

to the feeder and refuses to leave,

even if you don’t put out seed.

Like the freckle that stays on the skin

long after the burn from the sun.

Like the scar on your elbow shaped like a heart

that you got from falling in gravel. How it took

so long to heal. How you pray it never fades.

 

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