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Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

 

 

 

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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turnovers

 

 

My own fault for not reading all the directions

on how to make puff pastry from scratch—

how after the shaggy dough phase, you shape

and then chill. And then roll and fold and roll

and shape the dough. And chill. And then roll

and fold and roll and fold. And chill. Then roll

and slice. And chill. And fill. And chill. So often,

mid project, I find myself thinking I would never

have started this project had I known

how long it would take. Flour on my pants,

on the floor, on the table.

 

Six hours later, nearly midnight, my daughter

and I baste the chilled triangles with water,

sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar,

then put them in the oven at last. We are tired,

but the house fills with the sweet scent

of baking apple, the home-rich scent of crust.

 

What is life, but a big project we are in the middle of?

A project I’m in no hurry to finish.

In fact, these days are like puff pastry dough,

guiding me to take it slow, slower, to rest

between steps. I haven’t read all the directions.

For now I am laughing. It’s so much more

than I thought I was in for. But I’m here,

hands ready. I’m willing to work, to clean up the mess.

 

 

  • photo by Finn Trommer

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The Inner Cupboard

 

 

 

No one else knows, as they eat the bread,

what’s been slipped into it,

how in with the flour, the yeast, the salt,

 

a stubborn devotion has slipped in.

It hides in an inner cupboard. Even the baker

doesn’t have the key. But when

 

she would rather not be loving—

because she is tired, because

she feels wronged, because she’s distracted—

 

that’s when the cupboard opens itself

and mixes into her the kind of devotion

that cannot be manufactured, the kind

 

of devotion that rises up not out of duty

but from some mysterious, infinite source

that guides her hands as they knead

 

the soft dough. It infuses her with a longing

to be big-hearted, a longing to love, even when love

feels unreasonable. She can smell it

 

as it fills the whole house with its generous

scent. Even now, as they sit and eat the bread,

it astonishes her, how ferocious

 

this drive to nourish, to love.

They pass the butter, the jam. She smiles

as they eat it together, slice after slice.

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IMG_0284

 

for my children, for all children

 

 

I want to give you the kind of day we didn’t have today—

a day when the wide blue sky makes you rush outside,

when we go to the park and meet your friends

and you run to greet them—you hug and play chase

and tag and tackle and whisper in each other’s ears.

I want to give you a day warmed through by laughter,

with crisp green leaves already on the trees.

And on our way home we could stop for ice cream

and joke with the women at the counter

about how there’s not much news to share.

A day when you can’t imagine being afraid. When

you fall asleep not wondering when someone we know

will die. Instead, the world gives us this day—

this day with its fears and its warnings—and

I give you what I can: A scarf to play dress up in.

A homemade pumpkin pie. Dance party in the kitchen.

Three tired and perfect words. Open arms.

A reminder the sleet will make the grass green.

Secrets I will keep for now to myself. The slow tide

of my breath beside you as you fall asleep.

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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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 (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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blurting out thorns

when for weeks I practiced

how to speak in rose

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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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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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